Argentina’s Health Ministry announced Monday that it is investigating the country’s first suspected case of monkeypox.
In a statement, the government said that the patient, who is from Buenos Aires Province and returned to the country a week ago from Spain, had symptoms compatible with the rare disease, including “pustules on different parts of the body and fever.”
The unnamed individual, who was in Europe from April 28 to May 16, is in “good general health,” the Health Ministry said.
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
The virus, which causes distinctive pustules but is rarely fatal, has previously been seen in central and west Africa. No treatment exists for the rare disease, but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks.
Argentina’s Health Ministry said that samples from the suspected case had been taken for analysis at the ANLIS-Carlos Malbrán state health institute.
A working group with officials from the Buenos Aires City and Province governments has been set up to coordinate clinical, diagnostic and epidemiological responses to the disease and implement measures to control outbreaks and avoid possible transmission, it said in a statement.
As of May 21, the World Health Organisation has received reports of 92 laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases and 28 suspected cases from 12 countries where the disease is not endemic, including several European nations, the United States, Australia and Canada.
Monkeypox, or “ortopoxvirosis simia,” usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the WHO, which says it is investigating the fact that many of the initial cases reported in Europe involved people identifying as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
"It is probably too early to draw conclusions about the mode of transmission or to assume that sexual activity is necessary for transmission," Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London's Science Centre (SMC), told the AFP new agency.
Argentina’s Health Ministry said Monday that "transmission between sexual partners, due to intimate contact during sexual intercourse with infectious skin lesions, appears to be the likely mode of transmission.”