Monkeypox has spread to more than 20 countries, but outbreaks can be contained, says WHO

RT: Maria Van Kerkhove, Head ai Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis at the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a press conference on the coronavirus situation at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, January 29 2020.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

The World Health Organization said on Thursday that the monkeypox virus has spread to more than 20 countries, urging nations to increase surveillance for the infectious disease as outbreaks grow.

About 200 confirmed cases and more than 100 suspected cases of monkeypox have been detected outside the countries where it usually circulates, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Covid-19 technical officer. She said more cases of the rare viral illness would likely be reported as surveillance expands, but added the recent spread was containable.

“We expect more cases to be detected. We are asking countries to increase surveillance,” Van Kerkhove said during a question-and-answer session on the global health agency’s social media platforms. health. “It’s a manageable situation. It will be difficult, but it’s a manageable situation in non-endemic countries,” she said.

Monkeypox has spread across North America and Europe in recent weeks, generating outbreaks in countries outside West and Central Africa where the virus has circulated at low levels for the past four decades. A milder West African strain of the virus is causing the outbreaks and most patients recover within weeks. No deaths have been reported so far.

The European Union has confirmed 118 cases of monkeypox, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Spain and Portugal have reported the largest outbreaks in the EU with 51 and 37 cases respectively. The UK has confirmed 90 cases of the virus, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

In North America, the United States has identified nine cases of monkeypox in seven states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Canadian health authorities have confirmed 16 cases of monkeypox, all detected in the province of Quebec.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday that some patients in the United States had not traveled to countries with active outbreaks, suggesting the virus is spreading nationally. Walensky said the CDC is doing contact tracing and trying to break chains of transmission in the United States

Health officials in Europe, the UK and the US have said the majority of patients have been gay or bisexual men, with the virus in many cases being spread through sex. However, officials pointed out that monkeypox can be spread to anyone through close physical contact, regardless of sexual orientation. Van Kerkhove said it was important to educate people facing high risk right now without stigmatizing anyone.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. The virus can be spread through any type of sustained skin-to-skin contact with an infected person who has a lesion. It can also be spread through bodily fluids, contaminated linens and clothing, or respiratory droplets if a person has a sore in their mouth.

The virus usually begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, chills, headache, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes. It then progresses to rashes characterized by raised bumps that turn into pus-filled blisters that eventually dry up and fall off.

Van Kerhkove urged medical professionals to consider monkeypox as a diagnosis for patients with unthinking illnesses who present to sexual health clinics, emergency departments, infectious disease clinics, physicians in primary care and dermatologists.

“It doesn’t mean that everyone with a rash will have monkeypox, but we need to raise awareness about what monkeypox is and isn’t, and we need to make sure countries have the capacity to test and provide the right information,” she said. .

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