Egypt detects first monkeypox case; isolates patient

Ahram Online , Thursday 8 Sep 2022

Egypt has detected its first monkeypox case in a 42-year-the old Egyptian who has residency in a European country and frequently visits it, the Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday adding that the patient has been quarantined in an isolation-designated hospital.

Egyptian Health Ministry
Logo of Egyptian Health Ministry.


The male patient was detected during epidemiological monitoring procedures the ministry is carrying out and his condition is stable, a statement by the health ministry revealed.

All required health and preventive measures have been taken with the patient's contacts in accordance with the treatment and follow-up procedures approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the ministry said without disclosing the names of the European country and the hospital where the patient has been admitted.

Since July, the ministry has raised the level of surveillance and the availability of diagnostic tools in all land and sea ports, and also raised awareness and training medical personnel on diagnosis and referral.

Cases of monkeypox have been reported from countries where the disease is not endemic since early May 2022, the WHO says, and continue to be reported in several endemic countries.

Most confirmed cases with travel history reported travel to countries in Europe and North America, rather than West or Central Africa where the monkeypox virus is endemic, the WHO indicates on its official website.

The number of cases reported this year eclipse the number reported since monkeypox was first identified in 1958 – although there has been significant underreporting in Africa, according to remarks by WHO Director-General Tedros Gebreyesus on 4 September.

More than 50,000 monkeypox cases and 16 deaths have been reported to the WHO since the outbreak began earlier this year, according to Gebreyesus.

Gebreyesus has recently said that the current risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in Europe where the risk is high, indicating that for the moment the monkeypox outbreak “is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners”.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox has made headlines globally since 23 July when the WHO director-general declared the escalating global outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), with more than 16,000 reported cases in 75 countries and territories and five deaths at the time.

The monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 when it was first identified as a distinct illness. For the WHO, monkeypox primarily occurs in central and west Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests, and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas. 

It is a viral zoonotic infection, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans and can also spread from person to person through close contact with a patient who has a monkeypox rash, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin, mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-skin contact, including sexual contact.

Those infected by monkeypox do not spread it until after symptoms appear which according to the WHO, takes from two to four weeks, unlike the coronavirus, when a patient may be infected and contagious without any symptoms.

The patients are generally considered infectious until all of their lesions are crusted over, scabs fall off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath, the UN health agency says as it is still trying to understand how long people with monkeypox are contagious.

Signs and symptoms

The incubation period – the interval from infection to onset of symptoms – of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days, according to the WHO which divides the infection into two periods.

The first is the 0-5 day “invasion period” which is characterized by fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches and lack of energy.

The second is called the “skin eruption period” and it usually begins within 1–3 days of appearance of fever. The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk.

It affects the face in 95% of cases, and palms of the hands and soles of the feet in 75% of cases. Also affected are oral mucous membranes in 70% of cases, genitalia 30%, and conjunctivae (20%).

The rash evolves sequentially from macules in the form of lesions with a flat base to papules with slightly raised firm lesions, vesicles filled with clear fluid, pustules filled with yellowish fluid, and crusts which dry up and fall off.

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