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Palestinian Authority says it has detected no cases

Israel rules out monkeypox in 2nd patient suspected of having rare disease

Health Ministry says additional case determined to not be monkeypox; top health officials stress virus is not another COVID-19; at-risk population may get vaccine

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a monkeypox virion, obtained from a sample associated with a 2003 outbreak. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a monkeypox virion, obtained from a sample associated with a 2003 outbreak. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)

A top Health Ministry official said Sunday that a second suspected monkeypox case has been determined to not be the rare disease.

The announcement came a day after the first case in Israel was officially confirmed.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public services, ruled out monkeypox hours after her ministry said it was investigating a suspected case in a man who recently visited Western Europe.

According to Channel 12 news, the man was hospitalized and in isolation at Barzilai Medical Center in the coastal city of Ashkelon.

The 27-year-old was reported to be in good condition.

The Kan public broadcaster said the man was a sailor who arrived on a cargo ship that docked at the port in Ashdod.

Illustrative: This 1997 image provided by CDC, shows the right arm and torso of a patient, whose skin displayed a number of lesions due to what had been an active case of monkeypox. (CDC via AP)

The Palestinian Authority said on Sunday morning that no cases of monkeypox had been detected in West Bank areas under its administration.

“There is follow-up vis-à-vis those coming from abroad,” PA Health Ministry spokesperson Kamal al-Shakhra said in a statement.

Monkeypox is a viral infection has been surfacing in Europe and North America, as well as Israel. Symptoms of the rare disease include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash stressed on Sunday “it is not another coronavirus.”

“These kinds of diseases break out every now and then,” he told Radio103.

“We are considering and intending to vaccinate mostly at-risk populations,” he said, but noted there is no need to inoculate the entire population.

Up until 1996, IDF recruits received smallpox vaccinations, which partially protect against monkeypox. Therefore it’s believed that a large part of the adult population in Israel may have some level of protection.

Health Minister Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a meeting at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on October 24, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

National coronavirus czar Salman Zarka told the Kan public broadcaster that monkeypox is “a milder disease that is much less infectious than the coronavirus.”

Zarka said the existing vaccinations and treatments are effective against the diseases.

Israel’s first suspected case was reported on Friday and confirmed during a meeting of health officials on Saturday night.

It was found in 30-year-old man who returned to Israel recently from abroad. He is in isolation at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and in good condition.

The Israel Center for Disease Control committee concluded its deliberations on Saturday without making any major decisions, but vowed to monitor the disease.

Dr. Boaz Raz, the head of the committee, said he did not expect a widespread outbreak.

“This is not an epidemic, but we need to raise public awareness,” Raz said, according to Channel 13.

The Health Ministry called on anyone who has returned from abroad and has a fever and a rash to contact a doctor.

Illustrative: Discarded biohazard bags fill a trash can in Richmond, Virginia (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Health Ministry assesses there will be dozens more cases in Israel, but that there is no danger to the general public and that the disease will not become an epidemic, Kan reported Saturday.

The ministry stressed that the disease is usually mild and there are few instances of serious illness or death.

The ministry also said it is “examining equipping itself with vaccines and relevant medications,” as well as gearing up for further diagnoses.

At the meeting, the health experts discussed administering vaccines to people after they were exposed, which could at that point still ward off a serious case, Channel 13 said.

This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, and depicts the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox case patient, who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. (CDC via AP)

Galia Rahav, the head of Sheba Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Unit and a member of the committee, told Channel 13: “This is a completely different infection than the coronavirus, a lot less infectious.”

She said it didn’t spread through particles in the air like COVID-19, making it less transmissible.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets from a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding or towels.

Medical experts in the LGBTQ community took part in the Center for Disease Control committee meeting. The World Health Organization has said it is investigating the fact that many cases reported in other countries were people identifying as gay or bisexual.

The Israeli experts urged avoiding the subject so the disease would not be stigmatized. They also called for preparations ahead of next month’s gay pride events, which are expected to draw 100,000 participants, including many from abroad.

The health experts also discussed whether to vaccinate medical staff who come in close contact with infected patients, or people who were exposed and have compromised immune systems.

Top European health officials warned Friday that cases could accelerate in the coming months, as the virus has spread to at least eight European countries. The World Health Organization has confirmed 92 monkeypox cases in 12 countries.

In recent weeks, cases have been detected in Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden as well as in the United States, Canada and Australia, raising fears the virus may be spreading.

To date, no one has died in the outbreak. WHO estimates the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, but smallpox vaccines are protective and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

Monkeypox usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the WHO.

Aaron Boxerman and AFP contributed to this report.

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