An independent committee of experts from the World Health Organization says the spread of monkeypox in many countries around the world is worrying, but the WHO does not call it a public health emergency of international concern.
In early May, the World Health Organization was alerted to outbreaks of monkeypox in countries outside Africa, where the deadly disease has been spreading for decades. Since then, more than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have been reported in more than 50 non-African countries. This has raised alarm bells, as so far only sporadic cases of monkeypox have been reported outside Africa.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has described the current outbreak as an emerging health threat given the rapid spread of the disease to new countries and territories. He says the committee has agreed to convene another emergency meeting if appropriate.
The WHO spokesman, Christian Lindmeier, told VOA that the committee had prepared a list of factors that could trigger a re-evaluation of the incident.
“Evidence of an increase in the growth rate of reported cases over the next 21 days, including significant spread in and within additional countries. Also, if we see an increase in endemic countries. Therefore, there is also evidence of increased severity or associated with changes in the viral genome or end of transmissibility,” he said.
Monkeypox is a rare disease similar to smallpox. The virus causes rashes and flu-like symptoms. It is mainly spread through human contact with infected rodents, but can sometimes be spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
The disease is mainly found in Central and West Africa. This year, the WHO reports that there have been about 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox and about 70 deaths, mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Cameroon.
Lindmeyer says cases of monkeypox have spread to the European region, the Americas, as well as the eastern Mediterranean and western Pacific.
“At this point, it is primarily affecting the LGBTQ-plus community of men who have sex with men in new countries. But in endemic countries, we have seen children and women being infected and vulnerable communities and vulnerable populations.” have also seen deaths in the state,” he said.
While questions regarding the monkeypox outbreak remain unresolved, the WHO urges nations to remain vigilant and strengthen their ability to prevent transmission of the disease.
The WHO Expert Committee advises countries to increase surveillance, improve diagnosis, and use therapeutics and vaccines when appropriate. It also recommends implementing public health measures, including contact tracing and isolation, to affected communities.