Rare monkeypox outbreak in U.K., Europe and U.S.: What is it and should we worry?

Rare monkeypox outbreak in U.K., Europe and U.S.: What is it and should we worry?
Symptoms of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand, from a 2003 case in the United States. In most instances, the disease causes fever and painful, pus-filled blisters. New cases in the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal are spreading possibly through sexual contact, which had not previously been linked to monkeypox transmission.CDC/Getty Images

Editor’s note: This story was updated on May 20 to reflect the latest case counts.

There’s a monkeypox outbreak in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and other European countries. The outbreak is small ā€” so far about 80 suspected cases, including nine in England, 17 in Canada, and 23 in Spain. There are also cases in Portugal, Sweden, Italy and France. Two suspected cases have also been reported in the U.S.

But health officials have little clue where people caught the monkeypox virus. And there’s concern the virus may be spreading through the community ā€” undetected ā€” and possibly through a new route of transmission.”This [outbreak] is rare and unusual,” epidemiologist Susan Hopkins, who’s the chief medical adviser of the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said in a statement on Monday.

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