The World Health Organization expects to find a greater number of cases of monkeypox as it improves surveillance in places where the disease is uncommon.
As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported from 12 member states that are not endemic for the virus, according to a U.N. agency. In the coming days, the agency will provide additional guidance and recommendations to countries on how to prevent the spread of monkeypox.
The organisation stated, “Available knowledge implies that human-to-human transmission occurs among those in direct physical contact with symptomatic cases.”
Monkeypox is a typically mild infectious disease that is widespread in portions of west and central Africa. It is transmitted through intimate contact, thus it may be contained quite simply through self-isolation and hygiene.
“It appears to have gotten into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being distributed as are sexually transmitted infections, which has accelerated its transmission over the world,” WHO infectious disease specialist David Heymann told Reuters.
Heymann stated that an international committee of experts gathered via video conference to discuss what needs to be examined and conveyed to the public regarding the outbreak, including whether there is asymptomatic spread, who is most at risk, and the numerous transmission channels.
He explained that the conference was called “because to the severity of the situation.” The committee is not the group that would propose declaring a public health emergency of worldwide concern, the highest level of notice issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and applicable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that close contact was the primary mode of transmission, as lesions characteristic of the condition are highly infectious. For instance, parents caring for sick children and healthcare personnel are at danger, which is why several nations have begun immunising teams treating monkeypox patients with smallpox vaccines, a related virus.
Sexual health clinics have uncovered the majority of the existing cases.
Early genomic sequencing of a small number of cases in Europe revealed a similarity to the strain that spread in a restricted manner in the United Kingdom, Israel, and Singapore in 2018.
Heymann stated that it was “biologically feasible” that the virus had been spreading outside of its endemic regions, but that it had not caused significant outbreaks due to COVID-19 lockdowns, social isolation, and travel limitations.
He emphasised that the outbreak of monkeypox did not resemble the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic since it is not as easily transmitted. Those who believe they have been exposed or who exhibit symptoms such as a rash with bumps and fever should avoid close contact with others, he advised.
He continued, “There are available vaccines, but the most important lesson is that you can protect yourself.”