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Belgium became the first country to introduce quarantine measures for monkeypox patients amid concerns that the disease is spreading across the globe, CNBC reported Monday.
Belgian health authorities ordered a 21-day quarantine after the country reported its third case of the virus. As of Monday, Belgium has recorded four cases, while the current global number is around 100.
Officials said the measures only apply to patients with a confirmed infection and that people do not have to isolate if they have had contact with an infected individual.
Meanwhile, British public health authorities advised people with a high risk of contracting the disease to self-isolate for 21 days.
Currently, monkeypox has been found in 12 countries, including the United States, Canada and France. Another 28 suspected cases are under investigation, the World Health Organization noted.
The disease is caused by the monkeypox virus – part of the smallpox family – and its symptoms include rashes, headaches, back pain and swollen lymph nodes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is endemic in parts of Africa and usually spreads via human-to-human or human-to-animal contact.
It is not as severe as smallpox and will subside within two to four weeks. Although it doesn’t have a proven vaccine, the smallpox shot has proven 85 percent effective in preventing infection.
Still, its recent spread worldwide has raised alarms among scientists and public health officials about the potential of another outbreak.
British and American authorities have identified a significant concentration of monkeypox cases among homosexual males. They have specifically warned gay and bisexual males to be on alert for rashes or sores.