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ITM confirms first case of monkeypox in Belgium

ITM is closely following up the evolution of the disease.

20-05-22

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The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp reports a first confirmed case of monkeypox in Belgium. At the same time, the Outbreak Research Team of ITM is also involved in a monkeypox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On Friday afternoon, the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) will meet to formulate a policy for Belgium after expert consultation.

In recent days, the monkeypox virus has surfaced in several Western countries. ITM has had experience with the disease in Central Africa for some time, but is now seeing the virus for the first time in their clinic. This is the first confirmed case in Belgium. ITM has set up a team to coordinate the further identification and response within ITM.

"As scientists and doctors, we are vigilant and are monitoring the progress of the disease closely. The spread we now see is remarkable compared to previous outbreaks. More research is needed to explain it. Based on current data, the chances of the virus spreading to the general population seem small," says Isabel Brosius, infectiologist at ITM.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus. This virus is from the same family as the smallpox virus. In the first place, it is a disease that manifests itself with a specific skin rash in which blisters often develop with first a clear and then a pus-like fluid. The rash is often preceded by an episode of fever, sore throat and muscle aches. In most cases, the course of the disease is mild and the symptoms disappear spontaneously after a few weeks. If we look at data from African countries, we do see complications and deaths due to the disease.

Outbreak Research Team in the DRC

ITM, together with colleagues from its long-standing partner, the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in the DRC, set up a project on monkeypox. The virus circulates there mainly among animals in the rainforest. However, the virus regularly spreads from animals to humans, resulting in outbreaks. In recent years, more and more cases of monkeypox have been identified. This is mainly caused by the extensive consumption of bush meat.

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