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Israel confirms third monkeypox case in man who returned from abroad

No community spread reported in Israel, with all three cases among recent travelers; WHO says risk to global health remains ‘moderate’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Health workers screen passengers arriving from abroad for monkeypox symptoms at Anna International Airport terminal in Chennai, India, June 3, 2022. (Arun Sankar/AFP)
Health workers screen passengers arriving from abroad for monkeypox symptoms at Anna International Airport terminal in Chennai, India, June 3, 2022. (Arun Sankar/AFP)

Israel on Tuesday confirmed its third case of the monkeypox virus, in an Israeli man who recently returned from abroad.

According to the Health Ministry, the 34-year-old man arrived at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv with symptoms of the condition.

The man, who had recently returned from traveling overseas, was confirmed to have monkeypox after a sample was tested at the Israel Institute for Biological Research.

The ministry did not say where the man had traveled from.

The first case of monkeypox was confirmed in Israel on May 20, and a second case on May 28.

On Sunday, the World Health Organization said more than two dozen countries that haven’t previously identified monkeypox cases reported 780 confirmed infections, a more than 200% jump in cases since late May. No monkeypox deaths outside of Africa have yet been identified.

WHO estimated that the risk posed by monkeypox to global health was “moderate,” saying this was the first time that so many cases and clusters were reported across the world. Until last month, the disease had not been known to cause large epidemics beyond central and west Africa, where it has mostly affected people in rural areas who come into close contact with infected wild animals.

On Monday, British health officials revealed that there are more than 300 monkeypox cases in the UK. To date, the UK has the biggest identified outbreak of the disease beyond Africa, with the vast majority of infections in gay and bisexual men.

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)

The Israeli Health Ministry said the virus generally presents with a fever, blisters on the body and an enlargement of the lymph nodes. It encouraged anyone with such symptoms as well as anyone who believes they have come in contact with someone suspected of having monkeypox to reach out to their physician.

Both of Israel’s first two confirmed monkeypox cases were also in men in their 30s who had recently returned from abroad. There have so far been no reported cases of community spread of the disease within Israel.

Israeli health officials have played down the risk of the virus. The Health Ministry’s head of public health services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, urged calm in a briefing last month and said the recent outbreak of the virus was not a major risk to public health.

Monkeypox usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the WHO. A case of the virus was diagnosed in Israel in 2018, and no known community infections resulted from it.

AP contributed to this report.

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