Montreal health officials investigate 17 cases of suspected Monkeypox.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.
Cases of monkeypox are being investigated in several European countries as well as the US, Canada and Australia, according to health authorities and local media reports.
The new cases were reported in Belgium, France, Australia and Germany.
This follows infections confirmed in Italy, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, the US, Canada and the UK - where the first European case was reported.
Monkeypox is most common in remote parts of Central and West Africa.
Instances of the disease outside of the region are often linked to travel to the area.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which is usually mild and from which most people recover in a few weeks, according to the UK's National Health Service.
The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the wider public is said to be very low.
In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) while smallpox does not.
Where did monkeypox come from?
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, monkeypox was isolated and named in Copenhagen's State Serum Institute laboratory in 1958 and was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
What is monkeypox infection?
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions. Monkeypox typically presents clinically with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.
MONTREAL, Quebec - Montreal public health officials said on Thursday they are investigating 17 suspected cases of monkeypox virus infections, adding to the growing number of cases of the rare virus reported globally.
Several countries including Portugal and Spain have reported cases of monkeypox in recent weeks, with a US case identified by Massachusetts public health officials on Wednesday in a man who had recently traveled to the Canadian province of Quebec.
Health officials in Quebec's largest city told reporters there was a link between the US case of monkeypox in Massachusetts and a few of the suspected cases in the Montreal region.
Dr. Mylene Drouin, public health director of Montreal, said the cases are not considered severe and are mainly among men who have had sexual relations with men, between 30 to 55 years old.
While public health officials hope to have laboratory confirmation by the weekend, Drouin said there is a good chance cases are due to monkeypox.
"The more that we see the evolution of what's happening around the world, and the link that we have with the case in the US, we suspect that it's a strong possibility," she said.
Dr. Genevieve Bergeron, a medical officer for health emergencies and infectious diseases, said the first suspected case was reported on May 12.
Monkeypox, which mostly occurs in west and central Africa, is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, though milder. It was first recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s. The number of cases in West Africa has increased in the last decade.
Symptoms include fever, headaches and skin rashes starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.
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