Cyprus monkeypox alert after suspect case

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The Health Ministry has confirmed that authorities are treating a suspected case of monkeypox involving a 34-year-old Eastern European man working in Paphos.

Health Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Athanasiou said Wednesday the man had turned up at Paphos General Hospital on Tuesday night with a rash on his face and body, similar to the one caused by monkeypox.

He was immediately sent to the Nicosia General, acting as the referral hospital for monkeypox, where tests are underway.

The suspect case is being treated in isolation in a special ward.

The ministry could not immediately confirm whether the man had recently travelled outside the island.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela had said that Cyprus is fully prepared to handle cases of monkeypox following a false alarm last week.

He noted an increase in monkeypox cases worldwide but argued that Cyprus is well prepared to address any situation.

“If necessary, tests can be done in Cyprus.”

Cyprus has yet to confirm a case of monkeypox following the recent outbreak in Europe.

Last week, there was a false alarm when a 31-year-old woman visited Larnaca General Hospital with a suspicious rash, and the suspected monkeypox case was sent to Nicosia General for treatment.

A sample was sent for tests, and it was diagnosed as a chickenpox case.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped up its monkeypox guidance, urging people to take extra precautions as global cases of the virus surpass 1,000 in more than 29 countries.

More than 700 cases were found in countries where the virus is not endemic, mainly in Europe.

The UK has reported the most cases, more than 300, followed by Spain, Portugal, Canada, and Germany.

Endemic in west and central African nations, monkeypox cases have been detected in more than 20 other countries worldwide, including Australia.

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, a deadly disease eradicated in 1980.

But monkeypox is much less severe, with a 3-6% fatality ratio. Most people recover within three to four weeks.

The initial symptoms include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a chickenpox-like rash.

There is not much in the way of treatment, but some antivirals developed against smallpox exist.

Vaccines developed for smallpox are about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

However, since smallpox has not posed a threat in more than four decades, most people under the age of 45 have not received the vaccine, and the supplies of the jabs are very limited.