Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a zoonotic virus (meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans) in the genus Orthopoxvirus – the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. (It is not related to chickenpox.)
Monkeypox symptoms are similar to those of smallpox, but are milder; monkeypox is rarely fatal. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, a rash, and exhaustion. The virus can be spread to others by an infected person until all the scabs fall off and a fresh layer of skin appears. The condition can last up to a month
Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys being held for research. Even though it is called “monkeypox,” the source of the disease is unknown – though monkeys and other non-human primates as well as African rodents may harbor the virus and infect humans. (These are the world’s deadliest animals.)
To find the countries with the most monkeypox cases, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from Global.health, a collaborative resource of real-time infectious disease data maintained by technologists and researchers from international institutions. Countries are ordered by the number of cumulative monkeypox cases as of July 5, 2022. In the two instances where two countries reported the same number of cases, the one with the smaller population – and thus the greater incidence per capita – was placed higher on our list
According to the CDC, the first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Since then, it has been reported in central and western African countries. Before the 2022 outbreak, however, nearly all monkeypox cases in people outside Africa were connected to travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs, or through imported animals.
The World Health Organization said in early July that 5,322 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease had been reported to the organization, with 85% of the cases in Europe. Of the 20 countries on our list, 15 are European, and the top four – United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and France – are all in Europe. The U.K., which has the most reported cases, was the first European nation to record an appearance of the disease, on May 6. (Read what countries are doing to address the next pandemic.)
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