The World Health Organization expects more monkeypox cases to appear worldwide

A portion of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey infected with monkeypox virus, seen at 50-fold magnification on day 4 of rash development in 1968. CDC/Handout via REUTERS

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LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization said it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as surveillance expands in countries where the disease is not usually found.

As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected monkeypox cases have been reported from 12 non-endemic member states, the UN agency said, adding that it will provide more guidance and recommendations in the coming days to countries on how to mitigate. Spread of monkeypox.

The agency added, “The available information indicates that transmission of infection from one person to another occurs between people who are in close physical contact with cases who show symptoms.”

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Monkeypox is a contagious disease that is usually mild and endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. It spreads through close contact, so it can be contained relatively easily through measures such as self-isolation and hygiene. See explainer: read more

“What appears to be happening now is that it has reached the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is spreading like an STI, amplifying its transmission worldwide,” the infectious disease specialist told Reuters.

Heyman said an international panel of experts met via video conference to consider what needs to be studied about the outbreak and inform the public, including whether there has been any asymptomatic spread, who is most at risk, and the different routes of transmission.

He said the meeting took place “because of the urgency of the situation.” The committee is not the group that might propose declaring a public health emergency of international concern, the highest form of alert for the World Health Organization, applicable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Close contact is the main route of transmission, he said, because the typical lesions of the disease are highly contagious. For example, parents who take care of sick children are at risk, as are health workers, which is why some countries have begun vaccinating treatment teams for monkeypox patients with smallpox vaccines, a related virus.

Several current cases have been identified in sexual health clinics.

Early genetic sequencing of a few cases in Europe suggests similarities to the strain that spread in a limited manner in Britain, Israel and Singapore in 2018.

Heyman said it was “biologically plausible” that the virus was spreading outside of countries where the virus is endemic, but that it has not led to a major outbreak as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions.

He stressed that the outbreak of monkeypox is not like the early days of the Covid-19 epidemic because it is not easily transmitted. He said those who suspect they may have been exposed, or who are showing symptoms including rash and fever, should avoid close contact with others.

“There are vaccines available, but the most important message is that you can protect yourself,” he added.

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(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby and Akanksha Khushi) Editing by Praveen Shar and David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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