How concerned should we be about monkeypox?
Global health officials have sounded the alarm in Europe and elsewhere over rising cases of monkeypox, a type of viral infection more common in West and Central Africa.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Saturday, there have been 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox from 12 member states that are not endemic for the virus.
The UN agency said it hopes to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance to countries where the disease is not commonly found, and further guidance for those countries in the coming days. and provide recommendations on how to reduce the spread of monkeypox.
The following information is known about the current outbreak and the relative risk of monkeypox:
How dangerous is this?
The risk to the general public at this time is low, a US public health official told reporters at a briefing on Friday.
Monkeypox is a virus that can cause symptoms with fever, pain, and a distinctive bumpy rash.
It is related to smallpox but is usually mild, especially the West African strain of the virus that was identified in an American case, which has a mortality rate of about 1%. The official said most people make a full recovery in two to four weeks.
The virus does not spread as easily as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that inspired the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts believe that current monkeypox outbreaks are spread through close, intimate skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active rash. Experts said that once the infection is identified, its spread should be eased.
“COVID spreads through the respiratory tract and is highly contagious. This does not appear to be the case with monkeypox,” said Dr. Martin Hirsch said.
WHO official David Heyman said: “What seems to be happening now is that it has entered the population sexually, as genital, and is being spread as sexually transmitted infections, which have It has increased its transmission around the world.” An infectious disease expert told Reuters.
What are health experts worried about?
According to the WHO, the recent outbreaks reported so far are unusual, as they are occurring in countries where the virus is not routinely transmitted. Scientists are trying to understand the origins of the current affairs and whether anything has changed about the virus.
Most of the cases reported so far have been found in the UK, Spain and Portugal. Cases have also been reported in Canada and Australia, and a single case of monkeypox was confirmed in Boston, with public health officials saying more cases were likely to emerge in the United States.
WHO officials have expressed concern that gatherings for festivals, parties and holidays could lead to more infections during the coming summer months in Europe and elsewhere.
How can people prevent infection?
The UK has begun vaccinating healthcare workers who may be at risk when caring for patients with the smallpox vaccine, which can also protect against monkeypox. The US government says it has enough smallpox vaccines in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to vaccinate the entire US population.
A spokesman for the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that there are antiviral drugs for smallpox that can also be used to treat monkeypox in certain circumstances.
Broadly speaking, health officials say that people should avoid close personal contact with anyone who has a rash or who is otherwise unwell. People who suspect they have monkeypox should be isolated and seek medical care.
What could be behind the spike in cases?
“The virus is nothing new and expected,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
Rasmussen said a number of factors, including global travel as well as climate change, have accelerated the virus’s emergence and spread. He said that the world is more alert to any new outbreak in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
WHO expects more cases of monkeypox to be reported globally.
Read all the latest news, breaking news and IPL 2022 live updates here.