TThe ongoing outbreak of monkeypox currently poses a moderate risk to global public health, the World Health Organization said on Sunday in a statement that despite raising the specter of the virus that has become entrenched as a pathogen that has spread from person to person.
The WHO says 23 countries reported a total of 257 confirmed cases and an estimated 120 suspected cases investigated on May 26-a rapid aggregation of cases in a no known outbreak was first seen earlier this month. To date most cases have been diagnosed in Europe and North America. The United States noticed 12 cases on Friday.
“Today, the overall public health risk of [a] The global level is assessed as moderate considering that this is the first time that cases of monkeypox and measles have been reported simultaneously in many different geographical areas by WHO, ”according to the world health agency.
“The public health risk can be high if this virus takes advantage of the opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spreads to groups with a higher risk of serious illness such as children and immunosuppressed people. , ”the statement said, announcing that since smallpox vaccination stopped more than 40 years ago, an ever-growing portion of the worldwide population has been vulnerable to the monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus, a family that includes the now extinct smallpox virus; Vaccines and medications designed to prevent or treat monkeypox are expected to provide some protection against monkeypox. Monkeypox causes more mild illness than good – the latter kills about 30% of cases. The monkeypox mortality rate is estimated to be between 1% and 10%, with the viruses responsible for the current outbreak, from the West African clade, being related to the mortality rate at the lower end of that spectrum. .
Most cases of this outbreak are found in men who have sex with men. And while the WHO is asking countries to look for missing cases if they track down contact, most of the cases reported are active, meaning they have symptoms now, Maria Van Kerkhove, leading the progress diseases and zoonoses unit of WHO’s Health Emergency Program, according to STAT.
The WHO says that the current risk to individuals in the general public appears to be low, but it may not remain that way; “Immediate action is needed from countries to control the further spread of at-risk groups, prevent the spread to the general population and prevent the establishment of monkeypox as a clinical condition and health problem. to the public in today’s non -endemic countries. “
Monkeypox is considered endemic in nature – although the true host or host animal is not yet known – in nearly 12 countries in West and Central Africa.
No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak to date. And in fact, many of the infected people report “relatively mild” symptoms, with swollen lymph nodes and sores especially in the mouth, or in or around the genitals or anus, the statement said. in the WHO. The lack of more severe disease may mean that some affected people do not seek medical care, which would contribute to lowering the scale of the epidemic and hamper efforts to prevent it.
The WHO also recommends health workers unfamiliar with monkeypox may not be aware of what they see when an affected person comes in for care. “Because of the different conditions that cause skin rashes and because the clinical presentation can often be atypical in this outbreak, it can be challenging to differentiate monkeypox based solely on clinical presentation, especially in cases with atypical presentation, “it said.
It is clear from the scale of the epidemic that the virus transmits have not been known for a long time, and it is likely to be much larger than is currently recognized. “[T]its sudden appearance and wide geographical coverage of many sporadic cases indicate that widespread after-to-after transmission has already begun, and the virus may be circulating undetected for several weeks or longer, ”According to the agency.
The WHO case definition for possible cases suggests that health providers consider people with symptoms from March 15 onwards as possible cases of monkeypox, suggesting that it believes the virus may be transmitted without notice at least in the long run.
The agency suggested that countries should focus on disseminating accurate information about monkeypox to the groups currently at highest risk, and stopping further spread among them. It also said countries should work to protect workers going forward, saying health workers are at risk of contracting the virus if they do not use appropriate protective equipment.