The first European case was confirmed on May 7 in an individual who returned to England from Nigeria, where monkey pox is endemic.
Since then, Portugal has logged 14 cases, and Spain has confirmed seven cases. The US and Sweden have also reported one case each. Italian authorities have confirmed one case, and suspect two more.
Several monkey pox outbreaks in Africa have been contained during the Covid-19 pandemic while the world's attention was elsewhere, Africa's top public health agency said on Thursday.
“We are however concerned at the multiple countries outside, especially in Europe, that are seeing these outbreaks of monkey pox,” the acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, said.
“It would be very useful for knowledge to be shared regarding what the source of these outbreaks actually are,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Britain, the UKHSA has highlighted that the recent cases in the country were predominantly among men who self-identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
This unusual spike in cases outside Africa could suggest a novel means of spread or a change in the virus, said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA in California. “But this is all to be determined”.
“This isn't going to cause a nationwide epidemic like Covid-19 did,” cautioned Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“But it's a serious outbreak of a serious disease — and we should take it seriously.”