The 32-year-old patient, currently being treated in hospital in the town of Arezzo, had reportedly returned to the area on May 15th following a holiday in the Canary Islands.
Three other confirmed cases are being treated at the Spallanzani infectious diseases hospital in Rome.
The first Italian case of monkey smallpox, or monkeypox, was also in a man who had recently returned from the Canary Islands, doctors at Spallanzani said last Thursday.
At least 160 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in May 2022 in non-African countries where the virus isn’t endemic, almost all in Europe: mostly Spain, the UK and Portugal and with single-digit cases in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as Italy.
Spain is now the non-endemic country with the highest number of monkeypox infections in the world – 36 – with 22 more suspected.
The illness has infected thousands of people in parts of Central and Western Africa in recent years, but is rare in Europe and North Africa.
Monkeypox is known to spread via close contact with an animal or human with the virus. It can be transmitted via bodily fluids, lesions, respiratory droplets or through contaminated materials, such as bedding.
Its symptoms are similar but somewhat milder than those of smallpox: fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, chills, exhaustion, although it also causes the lymph nodes to swell up.
Within one to three days, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.
Although most monkeypox cases aren’t serious, studies have shown that one in ten people who contract the disease in Africa die from it.
The unprecedented outbreak of the monkeypox virus has put the international community on alert.
On Monday, the European Union urged member states to take steps to ensure positive cases, close contacts, and even pets be quarantined as this is a zoonotic virus (a virus that spreads from animals to humans).