Israel reports second case of monkeypox, in 30-year-old man

Around 200 cases have been diagnosed globally since May 7; WHO unsure if outbreak has reached ‘peak of the iceberg’ but says spread containable

Illustrative: Monkeypox virus (Udomkarn Chitkul/iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: Monkeypox virus (Udomkarn Chitkul/iStock by Getty Images)

Israel has confirmed a second case of the rare monkeypox virus, in a 30-year-old man who recently returned from an overseas trip.

The man was hospitalized on Friday at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, and was released after a short while. He was confirmed to be infected with the virus on Saturday.

The new infection came just over a week after Israel discovered its first case of the virus, in a man in his 30s who had returned from a trip to western Europe.

Last Sunday, the Health Ministry announced that two additional suspected cases were ruled out by doctors.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

Since the United Kingdom reported its first case on May 7, the World Health Organization has reported 200 cases across several countries around the world. The virus is endemic across west and central Africa.

Sylvie Briand, Director of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases Department at the World Health Organization, outside the UN agency’s headquarters on May 12, 2020 in Geneva (Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Addressing the World Health Assembly on Friday, Sylvie Briand, director of the Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases Department at the WHO, said experts did not know if the outbreak had reached the “peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities.”

While warning that more cases were likely on the way, she urged the public not to panic, explaining that the condition was “not a disease the general public should be worried about. It is not COVID or other diseases that spread fast.”

On Thursday, a top epidemiologist at the WHO said more cases are expected to be detected in countries where monkeypox does not usually circulate.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said in a Q&A on social media: We expect more cases to be detected. We are asking countries to increase surveillance. This is a containable situation. It will be difficult, but it’s a containable situation in the non-endemic countries.”

She urged countries to “increase surveillance” but affirmed that the outbreak is a “containable situation.”

“It will be difficult, but it’s a containable situation in the non-endemic countries,” Van Kerkhove explained.

Israeli health officials have also played down the risk of the virus. In a phone briefing last Sunday, the Health Ministry’s head of public health services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, urged calm 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.

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