After the Spanish Ministry of Health announced the death of a patient infected with the monkeypox virus (MPXV) on Friday night, a second death was known on Saturday. Both patients had been hospitalized with encephalitis caused by the infection.
The Valencia Region Ministry of Health announced on Friday night that the patient’s death was “caused by an infection-related encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)”. The case will be “reviewed to finally confirm the cause”. The regional newspaper “Levante” wrote on Saturday that it was a “man in his 40s” who was in intensive care at a hospital in the city of Alicante.
In Andalusia, the regional Ministry of Health announced on Saturday that the second fatal victim was 31 years old. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Hospital Universitario de Córdoba with meningoencephalitis caused by the infection – in addition to the brain, the meninges are also affected.
Deaths may be due to previous illnesses. However, it was unclear in both cases whether concomitant illnesses were present. The newspaper “El País” wrote that the medical institute “Instituto de Salud Carlos III” in Madrid would examine tissue samples to better understand the cause of death.
Spain is one of the countries most affected by the infectious disease in the world. The Ministry of Health announced that there were about 120 hospital admissions in the approximately 4,300 cases recorded so far.
Brazil also reported its first possible smallpox-related death on Friday. The Ministry of Health of Brasilia said it was a patient with other diseases. So far, the WHO has reported five deaths in the current monkeypox outbreak – all in Africa.
In view of the rapid spread of smallpox, the WHO declared the highest alert level last weekend. The outbreak is an “emergency of international concern”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The international spread of the infectious disease is uncommon. So far, it has essentially been limited to six African countries.
A state of emergency has been declared in the state of New York due to the outbreak. “This action allows us to respond more quickly to the outbreak and take additional steps to vaccinate more New Yorkers,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement released Friday. You have to “use all the tools” to contain the virus and protect risk groups as best as possible.
Among other things, contact tracing will be intensified and more health professionals will be mobilized to administer vaccines. In addition, testing capabilities would be expanded. The state of emergency is valid until August 28. As of Friday, the state Department of Health reported 1,383 monkeypox virus infections, which are mostly concentrated in the metropolis of New York. This corresponds to about a quarter of reported cases in the US.
As of the most recent count, there have been nearly 23,000 smallpox cases worldwide. The Europe region is particularly affected with more than 14,000 cases, around 2,600 of which were in Germany as of Friday. According to AGES (as of 22 July 2022), 99 smallpox cases have been reported in Austria.
Currently, the outbreak is largely focused on men who have sex with men. However, according to the CDC health authority, isolated cases in children have already been confirmed in the US. Monkeypox infection can cause a rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills and muscle aches. The disease is usually not fatal.