San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Monkeypox kills 2 in Spain, epicenter of Europe outbreak


MADRID — Spain confirmed Saturday a second death in as many days from monkeypox, its health ministry said. These are believed to be the first confirmed fatalities from the disease in Europe since its recent spread beyond Africa. The ministry reported its first death from the disease on Friday.

The global monkeypox outbreak has seen more than 22,000 cases in nearly 80 countries since May. There have been 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo, where a more lethal form of monkeypox is spreading than in the

West. Brazil also reported a death linked to monkeypox on Friday.

On Friday, Spain’s health ministry reported 4,298 people were infected with the virus, making it the leading European country for monkeypox cases. Of that total, some 3,500 cases were of men who had had sex with other men. The ministry said 120 have needed hospital attention.

Health authoritie­s are administer­ing 5,300 vaccines that Spain received from the joint EU vaccine purchase program. Health workers say that’s far fewer than the number needed to cover atrisk groups.

“There is a real gap between the number of vaccines that we currently have available and the people who could benefit,” said Pep Coll, a medical director at a Barcelona health center. Monkeypox has been endemic to parts of Africa for decades. Its leap to Europe and North America was linked by experts to rave parties in Belgium and Spain.

It spreads mainly through skin-to-skin contact, but it can also be transmitte­d through bed sheets used by someone with monkeypox. Symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue and hives. People can be contagious for weeks, and the lesions can be extremely painful.

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