IRISH holidaymakers are urged to watch out for signs and symptoms of monkeypox abroad, as Spain and Portugal have emerged as the biggest hotspots for the virus.
Some 232 cases have been identified in the two countries combined, with Spain having the highest case rate in the EU with 132 confirmed cases.
All of Portugal’s 100 cases were in men, most under the age of 40.
The Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC) has confirmed two new cases of the virus in Ireland – taking the number here to four.
The HSE has not released details of the gender or ages of the four people with the virus.
Irish health officials hope cases will remain low, but expect more cases throughout the summer.
Dr Derval Igoe, chair of the HSE Monkeypox incident management team, said the health services here have systems in place if someone presents with symptoms of the virus that are usually mild.
But she warned the country must “prepare for more cases to come”.
Currently, the HSE have still not received the requested monkeypox vaccines that they have ordered.
Figures show there are 321 cases identified in the EU and 557 worldwide, but that does not include the two new cases identified in Ireland yesterday and multiple other cases in other countries.
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Figures for the EU do not include cases in the UK, where 190 people have been diagnosed with the virus – two of those cases are in Northern Ireland.
British health officials have confirmed that only two cases have been found in women.
Monkeypox is a rare disease originating in West and Central Africa and is a milder disease than its cousin smallpox.
It is spread by bite or direct contact with infected blood, meat or bodily fluids.
The virus presents as a high fever followed later by a rash.
People who are infected will also develop a chickenpox-like rash on their hands and face.
No treatment exists, but the symptoms usually disappear after two to four weeks and are usually not fatal.