STORY: “The important thing right now is to realize this outbreak can be contained….”
The World Health Organization said the new global outbreak of monkeypox, while unusual, can be contained with contact tracing and isolation.
At a press briefing Tuesday, the WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis said there are over 250 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox in at least 16 countries.
“This is an emerging disease, it has been emerging for the last 20-30 years, it’s not unknown, it’s very well described. But we have a new situation of this emerging disease which has now appeared, and has begun to spread among population groups which normally would not have this.”
Monkeypox is a usually mild viral infection that is endemic in parts of west and central Africa - and until the recent outbreak has only rarely been seen in other parts of the world. Symptoms include fever and a distinctive bumpy rash.
Professor Jimmy Whitworth teaches at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“Monkeypox is spread through close contact, so that means touching somebody, or being exposed to their bedding, or sharing utensils in some way.”
The majority of the recent cases have been reported in Europe – the continent’s largest outbreak ever, according to Germany – which recommends that those with the illness or exposed to it isolate for 21 days.
Cases have also been detected in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Lewis said that many, but not all, of the cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, most in their 30s.
“This is not, or we don’t know yet, if this is a sexually transmitted infection. What we have described, as described earlier, the skin to skin contact is the primary mode. [FLASH] And we don’t yet have the information as to whether this would be transmitted through body fluids for example.”
There are vaccines for monkeypox – also used to prevent smallpox – targeted for those who may be at risk.
Germany has ordered 40,000 doses in case an outbreak there becomes more severe.
France, Denmark and Britain are also offering a limited number of shots to those exposed.