Monkeypox outbreak poses “real threat” to public health, WHO official says

GENEVA – The World Health Organization’s top official in Europe has called on the authorities and civic groups to take urgent action to control the cases of monkeypox.

Europe has emerged as the epicenter of a monkey outbreak, with more than 1,500 cases identified in 25 European countries, accounting for 85 percent of cases worldwide, according to officials, Drs. WHO’s European regional director Hans Kluge told a news conference.

The WHO will convene its emergency committee in Geneva next week, Dr. Kluge added that a formal declaration calling for a coordinated response between countries to determine whether the outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern.

“The magnitude of this outbreak poses a real risk,” Dr. said Klug. “The longer the virus has been circulating, the more it will spread, and the stronger the disease in endemic countries.”

Monkeypox is a viral infection endemic to West Africa, but has now spread to 39 countries, including 32 with no previous experience, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Tuesday. Countries outside of Africa and Europe that have identified cases of monkeypox include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, and the United States.

Infections are mostly caused by close physical contact and mainly affect men who have sex with men, but it can also be spread through long-term face-to-face contact through respiratory drops, said Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Wednesday’s press conference. Monkeypox cases have also been found among close relatives, but the risks of transmission to the general population, Dr. Ammon said they were “relatively low.”

Monkeypox is not affiliated with a single social group, Dr. Kluge said he warned that stigmatizing the virus as a disease of homosexuals would undermine efforts to develop an effective public health response, as he did in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

The WHO has recorded 27 deaths this year in Africa, but none in Europe. Infections are mostly mild and do not require hospitalization, but people who have a close relationship with those infected with the virus should also be isolated for 21 days.

Dr. Kluge reiterated his fear that the spread of monkeypox could be accelerated during the summer months when hundreds of Pride events, music festivals and other gatherings will be held in Europe, but said that monkeypox was not the reason to cancel the events. The meetings provided a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the disease, he said, urging event organizers, local communities and dating apps to provide clear messages on how to prevent the disease or how to deal with it.

Dr. Kluge called for urgent action by European countries to increase surveillance, diagnostic testing and genetic sequencing, and to monitor the contacts and sexual partners of infected people. The WHO has released emergency funds to strengthen the laboratory’s ability to identify the monkey virus in countries that were missing.

But mass vaccination is not recommended, Dr. Kluge said, Dr. Tedros stressed on Tuesday that he was concerned that the rich countries would repeat the mistakes of the Covid-19 pandemic and quickly monopolize the limited stock of vaccines.

Dr. Tedros said the WHO was working with member states to develop an initiative that would ensure fairer access, but Drs. Kluge, “We are already seeing a rush in some areas to acquire and store these.”

The WHO is also working with experts to guess another name for the monkey and the disease it causes, Dr. said Tedros on Tuesday.

Christian Lindmeier, a WHO spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the name was “misleading and stigmatizing”. Preliminary research indicates that human transmission between humans may be undetected for several years, but the existing name, he said, could lead to misconceptions that people may not be infected unless they come in contact with animals related to Africa or animals. hura.

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