First monkeypox death confirmed since global outbreak began

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Monkeypox wounds. (Marioguti/Getty Images)

The first known deaths from monkeypox have been reported in Brazil and Spain since the global outbreak began in May.

A 41-year-old man in Brazil became the first death from the virus outside Africa when the country’s health ministry confirmed his death on Friday (July 29).

The health ministry said the man was also suffering from lymphoma and a weakened immune system, with several ailments worsening his condition.

He was hospitalized in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte and died of septic shock on Thursday after being taken to the intensive care unit.

Health officials in Spain also announced two deaths – believed to be the first in Europe. Local media reported that the first patient in the north-eastern Valencia region suffered from encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain linked to monkeypox.

The health ministry said the second monkeypox-related death occurred a day after Saturday.

According to the latest report from the disease surveillance agency National Epidemiological Surveillance Network, known as RENEW, authorities have recorded at least 4,298 known monkeypox cases in Spain. Of the 3,750 that the authorities are aware of, 3.2 per cent are hospitalised.

Spain has launched a vaccination plan as cases of monkeypox number in the thousands. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

“out of 3,750″ [monkeypox] Patients… 120 have been hospitalized and two have died,” the ministry said in a report. Officials did not provide any further details of the victims except to say that they were youths.

Although scientists believe monkeypox has likely been spreading silently for years, a cluster of cases of the once rare disease was first detected in Britain in May.

Since then, the virus has spread throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia – mainly in countries it was once rarely seen. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has infected more than 22,485 people.

Of those, 22,141 are in 72 countries that have not historically reported the virus.

For the second time in two years, the organization moved to declare a global health emergency in July amid the alarming spread of monkeypox.

Monkeypox is a virus similar to smallpox, but the symptoms are less severe. People suffering from this experience fever, body aches and swollen lymph nodes before the rash develops. The rash first begins with flat red marks that swell with pus, with sores appearing on the genitals, anus, and mouth.

The virus is spread from person to person through close physical contact with infectious sores and pimples, as well as respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

The Center of Preparedness and Response said in a July 25 report that more than 99 percent of monkeypox cases in the US so far are among men who have sex with men. This trend has spurred the LGBTQ+ community and scientists into action, emphasizing that monkeypox is not a “gay disease” and can be transmitted to anyone, regardless of sexuality.

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