The World Health Organization was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the recent outbreak of monkeypox, a viral infection more common in west and central Africa, after more than 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe.
In what Germany described as the largest outbreak in Europe of all time, cases have been reported in at least eight European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – as well as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom Kingdom reported Australia.
The disease, first identified in monkeys, typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside of Africa, making this case series a cause for concern.
However, scientists do not expect the outbreak to develop into a pandemic like COVID-19 because the virus does not spread as easily as SARS-COV-2.
Monkeypox is usually a mild viral disease characterized by feverish symptoms along with a characteristic bumpy rash.
“With multiple confirmed cases in the UK, Spain and Portugal, this is the largest and most widespread monkeypox outbreak ever seen in Europe,” said the Bundeswehr Medical Service, which detected its first case in the country on Friday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) committee to meet is the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential (STAG-IH), which advises on the risks of infection that could pose a threat to global health.
It would not be responsible for deciding whether the outbreak should be declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the WHO’s highest alert level currently applied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SPREAD IN COMMUNITY
Fabian Leendertz from the Robert Koch Institute described the outbreak as an epidemic.
“However, it is very unlikely that this epidemic will last long. Cases are well isolated via contact tracing and there are also medicines and effective vaccines that can be used if needed,” he said.
Still, the WHO Europe chief said he was concerned infections in the region could accelerate as people gather for parties and festivals in the summer months.
There is no specific vaccine against monkeypox, but data shows that vaccines used to eradicate smallpox are 85% effective against monkeypox, according to the WHO.
British authorities said on Thursday they had offered a smallpox vaccine to some healthcare workers and others who may have been exposed to monkeypox.
Since 1970, cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries. Nigeria has had a major outbreak since 2017 – so far this year, according to the WHO, there have been 46 suspected cases, 15 of which have since been confirmed.
The first European case was confirmed on May 7 in a person who had returned to England from Nigeria.
Since then, more than 100 cases have been confirmed outside of Africa, according to a tracker by an Oxford University academic.
Many of the cases are not related to travel to the continent. As a result, the cause of this outbreak is unclear, although health officials have stated that there may be some level of community spread.
SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC
The WHO said the early cases were unusual for three reasons: all but one have no relevant travel history to areas where monkeypox is endemic; Most are detected by sexual health services and in men who have sex with men, and the wide geographic distribution across Europe and beyond suggests transmission may have been ongoing for some time.
In Britain, where 20 cases have now been confirmed, the UK Health Security Agency said recent cases in the country have mostly been in men who self-identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
The 14 cases in Portugal were all discovered in sexual health clinics and involved men between the ages of 20 and 40 who self-identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
Health officials in Spain said 23 new cases were confirmed on Friday, mostly in the Madrid region, where most infections have been linked to an outbreak at an adult sauna.
It’s still too early to tell if the disease has turned into a sexually transmitted disease, said Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for the Lazio region of Italy. So far, three cases have been reported in the country.
Sexual contact is close contact by definition, added Stuart Neil, a professor of virology at Kings College London.
“The notion that there’s some kind of sexual transmission going on is a little far-fetched, I think,” he said.
Scientists are sequencing the virus from different cases to see if they are linked, the WHO said. The agency is expected to provide an update soon.
WHO calls emergency meeting as monkeypox cases surpass 100 in Europe – SABC News
Source link WHO calls emergency meeting as monkeypox cases surpass 100 in Europe – SABC News