IIn Spain, the first European deaths after a monkeypox infection have become known. The two men died in hospitals in the Valencia region and Cordoba on Friday and Saturday, Spanish health authorities said. Another possible death became known from Brazil. In response to the spread of monkeypox, the governor of the state of New York declared a state of emergency.
After the Spanish Ministry of Health announced the death of a patient infected with the monkeypox virus (MPXV) on Friday evening, a second death became known on Saturday. Both patients had been hospitalized with encephalitis caused by the infection.
The Health Ministry of the Region of Valencia announced on Friday evening that the patient’s death was “caused by an infection-related encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).” The case will be “analyzed to definitively confirm the cause”. The regional newspaper “Levante” wrote on Saturday that it was a “man of about 40 years old” who was in intensive care in a hospital in the city of Alicante.
Deaths possibly due to previous illnesses
In Andalusia, the regional Ministry of Health announced on Saturday that the second fatality was a 31-year-old. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of the University Hospital in Córdoba with meningoencephalitis caused by the infection – in addition to the brain, the meninges are also affected.
The deaths could possibly be due to previous illnesses. However, it was unclear in both cases whether concomitant diseases were present. The newspaper “El País” wrote that the medical institute “Instituto de Salud Carlos III” in Madrid will examine tissue samples to better understand the cause of the deaths.
Spain is one of the countries most affected by the infectious disease in the world. The Ministry of Health announced that there were around 120 hospital admissions in the around 4,300 cases recorded so far. Brazil also reported its first possible monkeypox-related death on Friday. The Ministry of Health in Brasília said it was a patient with other diseases. The WHO had so far registered five deaths in the current monkeypox outbreak – all in Africa.
“Emergency of International Concern”
In view of the rapid spread of monkeypox, the WHO declared the highest alert level last weekend. The outbreak is an “emergency of international concern,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The international spread of the infectious disease is unusual. So far, it has essentially been limited to six African countries.
A state of emergency was declared in New York State due to the outbreak. “This action allows us to respond more quickly to the outbreak and take additional steps to vaccinate more New Yorkers,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement released Friday. To contain the virus, you have to “use every tool” and protect risk groups in particular as well as possible.
Among other things, contact tracing will be intensified and more health workers mobilized to administer vaccinations. In addition, the test capacities would be expanded. The state of emergency is valid until August 28th. On Friday, the state Department of Health reported 1,383 infections with the monkeypox virus, which are mainly concentrated in the metropolis of New York. This corresponds to about a quarter of the cases registered in the USA.
As of the most recent count, there have been nearly 23,000 cases of monkeypox worldwide. The Europe region is particularly affected with more than 14,000 cases, around 2,600 of which were in Germany by Friday.
Currently, the outbreak is largely focused on men who have sex with men. However, according to the health authority CDC, isolated cases in children have already been confirmed in the USA. Monkeypox infection can cause a rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, and muscle pain. The disease is usually not fatal.