Spain reports second monkeypox-linked death

This 2003 electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. /CFP
This 2003 electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions. (Photo via CFP)

Spain on Saturday reported its second monkeypox-related death, bringing to three the number of fatalities linked to the current outbreak outside of Africa.

Spain and Brazil both announced what they believed to be their first deaths related to the virus on Friday.

It is however unclear if monkeypox actually caused any of the three fatalities, with Spanish authorities still carrying out autopsies and Brazilian authorities saying its deceased patient suffered from other serious conditions.

More than 18,000 cases have been detected throughout the world outside of Africa since the beginning of May, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Spain is one of the world’s worst-hit countries, with 4,298 people there infected with the virus, according to the Spanish health ministry.

“Among the 3,750 (monkeypox) patients… 120 have been hospitalized and two have died,” it said in a report, without specifying the date of the second death.

It said the victims were “two young men”, and that studies were underway to gather more “epidemiologic information” on both cases.

Brazil said a man with monkeypox died on Thursday in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the southeastern Minas Gerais state.

He “was receiving hospital treatment for other serious conditions”, the state health ministry said in a statement.

“It is important to underline that he had serious co-morbidities, so as not to spread panic in the population. The death rate is very low” for monkeypox, said Minas Gerais health secretary Fabio Baccheretti, who added that the patient was undergoing cancer treatment.

Brazil’s health ministry has recorded close to 1,000 monkeypox cases, mostly in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states, which are also in the country’s southeast.

The WHO’s European office said on Saturday that more monkeypox-related deaths can be expected.

“With the continued spread of monkeypox in Europe, we will expect to see more deaths,” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO Europe, said in a statement.

The goal needs to be “interrupting transmission quickly in Europe and stopping this outbreak”, she said.