Monkeypox 'likely' to reach Ireland, says tropical disease expert

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Monkeypox 'Likely' To Reach Ireland, Says Tropical Disease Expert Monkeypox 'Likely' To Reach Ireland, Says Tropical Disease Expert
It is only a matter of time before monkeypox arrives to Ireland, according to a tropical disease expert.
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James Cox

It is only a matter of time before monkeypox arrives to Ireland, according to a tropical disease expert.

The HSE has confirmed it has formed a group of experts to assess the disease and prepare a response.

The virus, which has existed in West Africa for years, causes a mild flu-like illness and bumps to appear on the skin - similar to chicken pox.

Director of the Tropical Medical Bureau at Travel Health Clinics, Dr Graham Fry, expects it to crop up in Ireland soon.

Dr Fry told Newstalk: "There have been cases in Canada, the States, Spain, Portugal, England as well. Is it going to appear in Ireland? The likelihood is yes.

"There's no reason it shouldn't, to be quite honest, with international travel the way it is. It's quite likely to appear here."

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The numer of monkeypox cases in Spain reached 21 on Friday, Germany confirmed its first case and two more cases were confirmed in Italy.

This is the largest monkeypox outbreak ever seen in Europe, and it is not known if the cases are linked.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox, as the name suggests, was first found in laboratory monkeys in the late 1950s. However, scientists are not sure if monkeys are the main animal reservoirs (carriers of the virus), so the name may be a bit of a misnomer. The latest thinking is that the main reservoir is probably smaller animals, such as rodents.

Unlike Covid, monkeypox does not spread easily from human to human. It typically requires interaction with animals that carry the virus, or being in very close contact with infected people, or having contact with 'fomites', such as contaminated clothes, towels or furniture. Also unlike Covid, monkeypox is not known to spread asymptomatically.

However, the evidence on monkeypox is thin, and the current outbreaks will provide new knowledge around its impact and transmission.

Monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, but is less transmissible. People who catch it typically develop a fever and a distinctive rash and blisters. The disease is usually self-limiting, with symptoms disappearing after a few weeks. However, monkeypox can cause severe illness, with outbreaks typically showing a case-fatality rate - the proportion of people with the disease who die from it - of between 1-15 per cent, with severe disease and death more likely among children. - Additional reporting from Reuters 

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