The first reports of young children infected by the monkeypox outbreak in Europe, at least four in recent days and a fifth a few weeks ago, have raised concerns about the evolution of the current outbreak of the disease, affecting more than 5,500 people are affected, increasingly in fifty countries.
Those cases came to light shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) last Saturday ruled out declaring an international emergency due to the surge in cases of the disease, although the agency had already warned it could change its criteria if the situation evolved along some scenarios , one of which was an increase in cases among vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised. Available data shows that children, especially younger ones, are at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected.
The last known infection in children was in Spain this Tuesday. The minor is three years old, but no details have been released about his gender, state of health or where he lives. The data is contained in Status report of the Ministry of Healthdated the 28th and analyzes the first 800 confirmed cases in Spain, a number that already exceeds 1,500 according to the updates offered by the municipalities.
In terms of data subjects, the report states that “in total 792 are men, 8 are women; ages range from 3 to 67 years, with a median of 37 years”. This assumes the youngest of them is of that age, although it is not possible to know if other older ones are also infected. The Community of Madrid, which concentrates more than half of the cases in the country, reported this Thursday that among the 820 people diagnosed in the region, none are minors. The Ministry of Health has declined to provide more precise data, saying these infections are “something very specific”.
Also on Tuesday, Dutch authorities reported the diagnosis of an underage primary school student, about whom no further details were offered, except that it was not known at the time how he had been infected and that contact tracing had begun to rule out other cases in his area. On Saturday, France was the country that reported one confirmed case and another suspected case among students also in primary school.
Britain has so far registered at least two infections in minors. The first, in May, concerned a baby who had to be admitted to intensive care but recovered thanks to the use of the antiviral Tecovirimat, of which few doses are available but already distributed in several countries including Spain . British authorities reported a second case this week.
The WHO has shown its concern about these infections. “I am concerned about the continued spread of the existing virus as it could allow the virus to become established [en nuevos países] and high-risk groups such as children, immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women,” warned the agency’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Wednesday. “The committee’s experts have recommended that I bring them back together soon if the situation develops rapidly, and I will do so,” he added.
The WHO has not said whether it has already decided to hold a second meeting of its expert committee and when it might be held, although it has indicated that the meeting will take place “as soon as possible” if necessary. . . The Expert Committee stated in its first meeting that the declaration of the international emergency is inevitable if the virus keeps moving towards some scenarios, one of which is the increase of cases in risk groups.
In recent days, the growth of cases worldwide has followed the same trend of recent weeks: almost every day more cases are confirmed than the previous one (almost 500 in the last few days), although with numbers far from the explosion of infections experienced are due to the corona virus. The vast majority of infections also remain mild. According to the health report, 24 of the first 800 positive people registered in Spain had to be hospitalized, which is 3%.
Spain is by far the hardest-hit country as of this Thursday, although comparing the data offered by each government is difficult as not all report daily and some are piling up major notification delays. Municipalities have so far reported 1,457 confirmed cases. Madrid remains the hardest hit with 820 and a rate of increase of around 30 a day. “We have a sustained rate of new diagnoses, with a large proportion of unknown close sexual contacts, so it is foreseeable that transmission of the virus will continue,” said a spokesman for the community.
Antonio Alcamí, a researcher specializing in the viruses that cause the different types of smallpox at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), agrees that “there is background transmission that goes undetected due to tracking difficulties , so it is foreseeable that cases will continue to occur for a longer period of time. According to this scientist, “The sparse information on cases diagnosed in children prevents us from knowing whether these are specific cases that caught the disease at home and are not progressing or suggest the beginning of new, more worrying chains of infection. “
Catalonia, with the vast majority of cases identified in the Barcelona metropolitan area, yesterday reported 230 new positives in the last week, up to a total of 380, already putting the rate of new diagnoses in this municipality close to that of Madrid. Andalusia, with 111 cases, and the Canary Islands, with 46, are the other two hardest-hit communities.
Internationally, the United Kingdom is the country with the most confirmed positives after Spain, 1,076, although it has not updated data since Tuesday. Germany is the country where infections are increasing the most and are already close to the thousand mark (969). In the US, cases total 350, although they are rising sharply in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which authorities have opted for Activate the CDC Emergency Operations Center to deal with the outbreak.