An old idiom says, "it never rains, but it pours". This means that one difficult situation tends to follow another in rapid succession. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic is being brought under control in many parts of the world, another potential threat is rearing its ugly head. The WHO has reported that there have been 120 worldwide cases of the rare monkeypox virus. It has been detected in the UK, France, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, the USA, Canada and Australia. The WHO said the virus could spread further in the coming months. WHO spokesperson Hans Kluge said: "As we enter the summer season, with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate".
Monkeypox is rarely fatal. Most of the cases reported thus far have been fairly mild. Symptoms of the disease include chills, fever, muscle aches, exhaustion and a nasty rash on the hands and face. It usually clears up two to four weeks after contracting it. Monkeypox was first detected in laboratory monkeys in 1958. It is thought to transmit from wild animals such as rodents to people. It can also spread from person to person. The virus is related to the smallpox virus, for which there are vaccines. Scientists say a smallpox vaccine is 85 per cent effective against the monkeypox virus. Despite this reassuring figure, virologists around the globe are on high alert and are tracking the spread of cases.