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Monkeypox

The Israeli health ministry on Sunday morning revealed the suspicion of a second case of the monkeypox virus in Israel, in a traveler who returned from Western Europe. The first person identified with monkeypox in Israel on Friday also returned from Europe.

The Health Ministry issued a press announcement saying “the disease is usually mild and there are very few cases in which it develops into a serious illness and death. At the same time, it is important to diagnose it and prevent exposure to the patient’s immediate environment. The health ministry is weighing acquiring a supply of vaccines and relevant drugs and is preparing to regulate the diagnosis as the number of infections in Israel increases.”

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Despite the reassuring announcement above, Professor Eli Schwartz, who treated the first Israeli monkeypox patient in 2018, told Kan 11 News that the new outbreak is a cause for concern, because of a possible mutation in the virus. He noted that there’s one African strain of Monkeypox that causes about 10% mortality, and therefore the spread of the virus around the world must be monitored closely. “Fortunately, so far there have been no deaths, so it can be said that the variant is not fatal at the moment,” Professor Schwartz concluded.

Corona Czar and director of Ziv Hospital, Professor Salman Zarka, told Reshet Bet radio Sunday morning: “We’re talking about a mild disease, which is much less contagious than the corona. The virus may have mutated, but there’s a vaccine for it that has been known for many years, and there are effective drugs.”

According to the CDC, the Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus which also includes the variola virus which causes smallpox, and the cowpox virus. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of research monkeys. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. The majority of infections are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Monkeypox cases in people outside Africa have been linked to international travel or imported animals, including cases in the United States, as well as Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

The natural reservoir of monkeypox remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates such as monkeys may harbor the virus and infect people.

The World Health Organization said Sunday night that 92 patients have been diagnosed with monkeypox worldwide and there are another 28 suspects in 12 countries where the virus is not common.

On Friday, a man, 30, arrived at the emergency room at Ichilov Hospital with a rash and symptoms of the virus. He had returned two days earlier from Western Europe and was placed in solitary confinement. His condition is mild. He has a rash but no fever. The staff is conducting an epidemiological investigation to trace those who had been in contact with this patient zero. They will consider the option of vaccinating people who have been in contact with him whose immune system is weak.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.