WHO holds emergency meeting on monkeypox: Key takeaways
- WHO anticipates more instances of monkeypox
- UN reported 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox from 12 member countries
- Many of the latest instances were discovered at sexual health clinics
The World Health Organization anticipates more instances of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in places where the disease is uncommon.
As of Saturday, the U.N. agency reported 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox from 12 member countries that are not endemic to the virus, adding that it will provide additional guidance and recommendations for countries on how to mitigate the spread of monkeypox in the coming days.
"Available information suggests that human-to-human transmission is occurring among people in close physical contact with cases who are symptomatic", the agency added.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is endemic in portions of western and central Africa. Because it spreads through close contact, it is relatively easy to contain by measures like as self-isolation and sanitation.
According to WHO official David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist, "What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world."
Heymann stated that an international committee of experts convened via video conference to discuss what needs to be examined and conveyed to the public about the outbreak, such as whether there is any asymptomatic spread, who is most at risk, and the various routes of transmission.
He stated that the conference was called "because of the urgency of the situation." The committee is not the panel that would recommend declaring a public health emergency of international concern, the highest level of notice issued by WHO in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that close contact was the primary mode of transmission because the disease's sores are very contagious. Parents caring for sick children, for example, are at risk, as are health workers, which is why some nations have begun inoculating teams treating monkeypox patients with smallpox, a related virus, vaccines.
Many of the latest instances were discovered at sexual health clinics.
Heymann stated that it was "biologically plausible" that the virus was spreading outside of endemic areas but had not caused major outbreaks as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, social isolation, and travel restrictions.
He emphasised that the monkeypox outbreak was unlike the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic because it does not spread as easily. Those who fear they have been exposed or who exhibit symptoms such as a bumpy rash and fever should avoid close contact with others, according to him.
"There are vaccines available, but the most important message is, you can protect yourself," he added.