Nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been found in more than 20 countries


Nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been found in more than 20 countries

LONDON (AP) – The World Health Organization says nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries not normally known to have outbreaks of the unusual disease, but described the epidemic as “containable” and suggested Stock up to share equitably the world’s limited vaccines and medicines.

During a public briefing on Friday, the UN health agency said there are still many unanswered questions about what triggered the unprecedented monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa, but there is no evidence that genetic changes in the virus are to blame.

This 2003 electron micrograph, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions (left) and spherical immature virions (right) isolated from a sample of human skin associated with the prairie dog outbreak of 2003.

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP

“The initial sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is no different from strains that we can find in endemic countries and (this outbreak) is more likely due to a change in human behavior,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, WHO Director for Pandemics and Epidemic Diseases.

Earlier this week, a top WHO adviser said the outbreak in Europe, the US, Israel, Australia and beyond was likely linked to sex at two recent raves in Spain and Belgium. This represents a marked departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in Central and West Africa, where humans are mainly infected by animals such as wild rodents and primates, and outbreaks have not spread beyond borders.

Although the WHO said nearly 200 cases of monkeypox had been reported, that seemed a likely undercount. On Friday, Spanish authorities said the number of cases there had risen to 98, including a woman whose infection was “directly linked to a chain of transmission” previously restricted to men, according to Madrid-area officials.

British officials added 16 more cases to their monkeypox tally, bringing Britain’s total to 106, while Portugal said its case count has risen to 74 cases. And Argentine authorities on Friday reported a case of monkeypox in a Buenos Aires man, marking the first infection in Latin America. Officials said the man recently traveled to Spain and now has symptoms consistent with monkeypox, including lesions and fever.

Doctors in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Canada, the US and elsewhere have found that most infections so far have been in gay and bisexual men or men who have sex with men. People are no longer likely to be affected by the disease because of their sexual orientation, and scientists warn the virus could infect others if transmission is not curbed.

WHO’s Briand said the current situation is “containable” due to the development of previous outbreaks of the disease in Africa.

Still, she said the WHO expects more cases to be reported in the future, noting, “We don’t know if we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg (or) if there are many more cases going undetected in communities.” , she said .

As countries like the UK, Germany, Canada and the US begin to look at how smallpox vaccines could be used to contain the outbreak, the WHO said its expert group is evaluating the evidence and will soon come up with guidance.

dr Rosamund Lewis, head of the WHO smallpox division, said that “there is no need for mass vaccination,” explaining that monkeypox does not spread easily and usually requires skin-to-skin contact for transmission. No vaccines have been specifically developed against monkeypox, but the WHO estimates that smallpox vaccines are about 85% effective.

She said countries with vaccine stockpiles could consider them for those at high risk of the disease, such as close contacts of patients or health workers, but that monkeypox could be controlled mainly through isolating contacts and continuing epidemiological investigations.

Given the limited global supply of smallpox vaccines, Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, said the agency will work with its member countries to potentially build a centrally controlled stockpile similar to those it has helped distribute during yellow fever outbreaks. Meningitis and cholera in countries that can’t afford them.

“We’re talking about providing vaccines for a targeted vaccination campaign, for targeted therapeutics,” Ryan said. “So the amounts don’t necessarily have to be large, but each country may need access to a small amount of vaccine.”

Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more severe illnesses can develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands, which can spread to other parts of the body.

Ashifa Kassam in Madrid and Daniel Politi in Buenos Aires, Argentina contributed to this report.

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