According to the WHO, as of May 26, 2022, the UK had the highest numbers of recorded cases in a non-endemic country, with 106 people known to have the disease, followed by 49 people in Portugal and 26 in Canada.
Monkeypox has been known to exist for the past 50 years and has made its way out of endemic countries before, albeit in singular cases which subsequently disappeared.
Experts say the situation is unusual now because of how many countries are seeing an outbreak.
Over past years, we have seen an increase in the number of cases in countries where monkeypox is endemic in wildlife.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen the highest number of confirmed monkeypox infections, according to the WHO, with 1,284 confirmed cases between 1 January and 8 May 2022, including 58 deaths.
The next highest figures were seen in Nigeria between 1 January and 30 April 2022, with 46 cases and no deaths, and in Cameroon with 25 reported cases, including nine deaths.
One of the reasons that monkeypox is believed to be spreading now is because of the population’s diminishing protection from smallpox vaccines.
Smallpox, which is in the same family as monkeypox, was eradicated in the 1980s through mass vaccination.
The lack of immunity in younger generations which have not received the vaccine, and are now growing up, means that it’s increasingly common for people to get monkeypox.
However, wider causes are also to blame, according to The Guardian, as deforestation and a rapidly changing climate render new land masses liveable for potentially infectious insects, force animals out of their habitats, and increase the likelihood of animals interacting with people.
Increased interconnectedness in the world means that diseases can spread around the globe more easily.
While anyone can get it, the dominant number of cases so far have been among men who have sex with men, as while it’s not strictly a sexually transmitted disease, it is passed on through close contact with the infectious rash.