Nearly 200 cases of monkeypox in over 20 nations: WHO

As many as 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in over 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the unusual disease, according to the World Health Organisation.

The UN health agency while addressing a public briefing on Friday, said there are still many unanswered questions about what triggered the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa, “but there is no evidence that any genetic changes in the virus are responsible.”

Describing the epidemic as containable, the WHO proposed to create a stockpile to equitably share the limited vaccines and drugs available around the word.

“The first sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is not different from the strains found in endemic countries and is probably due more to a change in human behaviour,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of pandemic and epidemic diseases.

A top adviser to the UN health agency earlier this week, said that the outbreak in Europe, US, Israel, Australia and beyond was likely linked to sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium.

According to doctors in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Canada, the US and elsewhere, majority of monkeypox infections to date have been in gay and bisexual men, or men who have sex with men.

As the disease is no more likely to affect people because of their sexual orientation, scientists have wared that the virus could infect others if transmission isn’t curbed.

Explaining that monkeypox does not spread easily and typically requires skin-to-skin contact for transmission, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, head of WHO’s smallpox department, said that there is no need for mass vaccination.

Meanwhile, there is no particular vaccination against monkeypox, but WHO has estimated that smallpox vaccines are about 85 per cent effective.

Lewis said nations with vaccinations could consider those at high risk of the disease, like close contacts of patients or health workers. However, monkeypox infection could mostly be controlled by isolating contacts and continued epidemiological investigations.

While most people with monkeypox experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue, patients with serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

(Inputs from PTI)

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