Lisbon: The monkeypox virus circulating in Portugal belongs to a less aggressive lineage spreading in West Africa, the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge said Tuesday.
The research team of Joao Paulo Gomes, head of the Bioinformatics Unit of the Institute's Department of Infectious Diseases, has completed the genome-sequencing of the monkeypox virus spreading in the country, Gomes told Lusa news agency. The virus in Portugal "is more closely related to the monkeypox virus from Nigeria," which was detected in 2018 and 2019 in countries, including Britain, Israel, and Singapore, the expert said, noting that there is another more aggressive lineage of monkeypox circulating in Central Africa.
"In theory, it evolves more than we expected. Eventually, we will be able to see that these genomic traits may be associated with greater transmissibility, we don't know yet," he said.
Although "there is no reason for concern," the microbiologist called on countries "to act, to block the chains of transmission, to carry out strong surveillance and quickly dismiss all suspected cases."
Monkeypox is a rare disease, which can spread through direct contact with bodily fluids or through contact with contaminated clothes or bedsheets.
Portugal has so far confirmed 39 cases, with all patients aged between 27 and 61, most of them under 40 years old.
As of Tuesday, there were 131 monkeypox cases and 106 suspected cases in 19 countries outside of Africa, since the first case was reported on May 7, according to the World Health Organization.