Spain reports second monkeypox-related death in Europe

30 July 2022, 09:03 | Updated: 30 July 2022, 12:52

A medical worker prepares a dose of Imvanex vaccine used to protect against monkeypox.
A medical worker prepares a dose of Imvanex vaccine used to protect against monkeypox. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Spain has reported its second monkeypox-related death, in what is thought to be Europe's second fatality from the current outbreak.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The death is understood to be only the third outside of Africa, with Brazil reporting its first death earlier on Friday.

Spain had reported its first death as recently as Friday, shortly after Brazil reported the first monkeypox-related death outside the African continent in the current wave of the disease.

No details have been given on the deceased.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that as of July 22 only five deaths had been reported worldwide. All of these were in the African region.

Monkeypox mainly spreads to people from infected wild animals like rodents in Africa, in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders.

In Europe, North America and elsewhere, however, monkeypox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa.

WHO's top monkeypox expert, Dr Rosamund Lewis, said this week that 99% of all the monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and that of those, 98% involved men who have sex with men.

Read more: Monkeypox outbreak: What is the virus and how does it spread?

Read more: Monkeypox to be renamed after accusations it's racist

Experts suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America were spread via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain.

The WHO said last week that the the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an "extraordinary" situation that now qualifies as a global emergency, its highest level of alert.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision to issue the declaration despite a lack of consensus among experts serving on the UN health agency's emergency committee.

Read more: 'Amber traffic warning' and more crippling rail strikes threaten summer getaways

It is the first time the chief of the UN health agency has taken such an action.

Mr Tedros said: "We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations.

"I know this has not been an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views among the members" of the committee, he added.

Although monkeypox has been established in parts of central and west Africa for decades, it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Declaring a global emergency means the monkeypox outbreak is an "extraordinary event" that could spill over into more countries and requires a coordinated global response.