The World Health Organization (WHO) says it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found.
As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported from 12 member states that are not endemic to the virus, the U.N. agency said, adding it will provide further guidance and recommendations in the coming days for countries on how to prevent the spread of monkeypox.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is usually mild, and is endemic in parts of west and central Africa. It is spread by close contact, so it can be relatively easily contained through such measures as self-isolation and hygiene. While not as deadly as smallpox, monkeypox can be both prevented and cured by vaccines.
2) Monkeypox transmission via aerosols has been acknowledged elsewhere before such as this Iowa State #monkeypox fact sheet. Sexual transmission possible as well, and across the placenta (to fetus). https://t.co/oepLQGE0ro pic.twitter.com/VnvkhZFbUy
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) May 21, 2022
The form of monkeypox being seen is passed through sexual transmission, with many of the current cases identified at sexual health clinics. As the virus is spread by close contact, lesions typical of the disease are very infectious, not unlike other common venereal diseases.
WHO is working to provide guidance to protect frontline health care providers & other health workers who may be at risk of #monkeypox.
WHO will be providing more technical recommendations in the coming days https://t.co/8ewHPaN0VN pic.twitter.com/HjOO0hRRRa
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 21, 2022
The WHO stressed that the monkeypox outbreak does not resemble the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, because it does not transmit as easily. They said it was “biologically plausible” that the monkeypox virus had been circulating outside of the countries where it is endemic, but had not led to major outbreaks as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, social distancing, and travel restrictions.
Monkeypox, like other “neglected tropical diseases”, primarily impacts low-resource settings.
While we will learn a lot about the virus (clinical/epi) with this outbreak in high income countries, we should also double down on efforts to improve global health/health for all.
— Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac) May 21, 2022
Those who suspect they may have been exposed to monkeypox or who show symptoms, including bumpy rash and fever, should avoid close contact with others and seek treatment.