It’s a familiar story – the lead news story on every bulletin of a virus that can not only leave you sick, but disrupt all aspects of daily life.
But just as we leave Covid behind, monkeypox has immediately filled that void.
Today, a European county becomes the first to introduce a mandatory 21-day monkeypox quarantine. It’s as 14 countries confirm outbreaks of the viral disease
According to Belgian health authorities, those who contract the virus will now have to self-isolate for three weeks. It’s after three cases were recorded in the country.
The infections, the first of which was recorded on Friday, are all linked to a festival in the port city of Antwerp.
Monkeypox – often caught through handling monkeys – is a rare viral disease.
The virus responsible for the disease is found mainly in the tropical areas of west and central Africa. It’s believed it enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose or mouth, and can pass between humans via droplets in the air, and by touching the skin of an infected individual.
Symptoms include a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue but the most obvious symptom is a rash, which usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment.
The World Health Organisation said it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found.
As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of the virus have been reported from 12 member states that are not endemic for the virus. The UN health agency says it will provide further guidance and recommendations in coming days for countries on how to mitigate the spread of monkeypox.
The Belgium outbreak as been reportedly linked to a fetish festival called Darklands, where three attendees have now tested positive.
Organisers issued a statement which said that there’s reason “to assume that the virus has been brought in by visitors from abroad to the festival after recent cases in other countries.”
They circulated warning information from the government saying that those infected would have to self isolate for three weeks and avoid any physical sexual contact.
Dr Susan Hopkins, a chief medical adviser for the UK health authority said that she expects more cases ‘on a daily basis’.