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First case of monkeypox confirmed on the island of Ireland

Health officials in Northern Ireland are expected to hold a briefing later today

A man with monkeypox. Stock image

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

The first case of monkeypox has been detected on the island of Ireland, it has emerged.

Health officials in Northern Ireland are expected to hold a briefing later today after the first ever infection on the island was reported this morning.

Wales also confirmed their first case of monkeypox earlier today

The European Union's disease agency said the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide has reached 219 outside of countries where it is endemic.

More than a dozen countries where monkeypox is unusual, mostly in Europe, have reported at least one confirmed case, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an epidemiological note released last night.

"This is the first time that chains of transmission are reported in Europe without known epidemiological links to West or Central Africa, where this disease is endemic," the note said.

It added that most of the cases were detected in young men.

The UK - where monkeypox's unusual appearance was first detected in early May - currently has the largest bulk of confirmed cases, with 71.

It is followed by Spain with 51 cases and Portugal at 37.

Outside of Europe, Canada has 15 and the United States has nine.

The total number of cases reported yesterday increased fivefold since its first count on 20 May, when the EU agency said there were 38 cases.

Image issued by the UK Health Security Agency of the stages of monkeypox (Credit: UK Health Security Agency/PA)

Contagion risk is "very low", the ECDC said earlier this week, but warned that people who have had multiple sexual partners - regardless of sexual orientation - are more at risk.

"The clinical presentation is generally described to be mild," it said, adding that there have been no deaths.

Monkeypox - a less severe disease compared to its cousin smallpox - is endemic in 11 countries in West and Central Africa.

It spreads by a bite or direct contact with an infected animal's blood, meat or bodily fluids, and initial symptoms include a high fever before quickly developing into a rash.

People infected with it also get a chickenpox-like rash on their hands and face.

No treatment exists, but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks, and it is not usually fatal.

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