Brazil and Spain recorded the first two monkeypox-related deaths outside Africa Friday, as governments try to combat the disease as it spreads rapidly through Europe and the Americas.
The Spanish Health Ministry did not disclose the age, sex or medical history of the individual, although Brazilian officials said the man who died in South America was a 41-year-old man who also suffered from lymphoma and a weakened immune system, Reuters reported.
The five previous monkeypox-related deaths this year all occurred in Africa, where the disease has spread for decades, although it was largely ignored.
Spain has 4,298 confirmed monkeypox cases, according to the Spanish Health Ministry, including 120 patients who have been hospitalized.
he Pan American Health Organization reports Brazil has 978 confirmed cases as of Friday.
U.S. cases have spiked over the past month, reaching 4,907 as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The deaths come less than a week after the World Health Organization declared the disease a global health emergency.
The deaths come as countries across Europe and the Americas race to boost vaccinations. Monkeypox, which is similar to smallpox, has spread for decades in parts of Africa, but gained a foothold in Europe and North America over the past several months, where the vast majority of cases have been in men who have sex with men. Monkeypox spreads through close physical contact and usually only causes mild symptoms. It is “contagious, painful and it can be dangerous,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, with symptoms that include rash, fever and swollen lymph nodes. There are no reported monkeypox deaths in the U.S.
HHS secured another 786,000 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine Thursday, adding to 338,000 doses that have already been distributed, as the federal government contends with vaccine shortages and spiking cases across the country. The 786,000 doses will be distributed over the next several weeks, Becerra said at a press conference Thursday, bringing the total number of available vaccine doses to roughly 1.1 million.
By Brian Bushard, Forbes Staff