Malta’s monkeypox case rate is one of the highest in Europe, with only four other countries showing a higher incidence, according to data released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
In an update earlier this week, the ECDC reported that, with 31 cases detected since mid-May, Malta had a rate of 60.1 cases per one million people.
This was the fifth highest rate in Europe, with only Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and the Netherlands registering higher numbers.
Several countries, including those with significantly larger populations than Malta’s, have detected fewer monkeypox infections in terms of sheer numbers.
They include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Slovakia.
According to the ECDC, there have been 16,750 monkeypox cases detected across Europe since May, with Spain, Germany and France having the highest numbers.
Monkeypox is a rare disease usually linked to contact with wild animals in west and central Africa. Cases have been detected in Europe, the UK as well as the US over the past months.
The ECDC says monkeypox does not spread easily between people.
“Human-to-human transmission occurs through close contact with infectious material from skin lesions of an infected person, through respiratory droplets in prolonged face-to-face contact, and through fomites,” it says.
Its symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pains, back pain, swollen glands, chills and lethargy. A rash that starts on the face can also develop.
Last week, Malta received its first doses of the monkeypox vaccine which is being offered free of charge to primary contacts of confirmed cases.
Two doses of the vaccine are necessary. The Maltese health authorities had announced they had detected the first case on May 27.
In July, the World Health Organisation declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, the highest alarm it can sound.