Monkeypox poses moderate risk to global public health: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday said monkeypox poses a "moderate risk" to overall public health across the world. It noted that the global public health risk from the virus could become high if it "exploits the opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spreads to groups at higher risk of severe disease such as young children and immunosuppressed persons."
- As the name suggests, the monkeypox virus was initially discovered in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958.
- However, its first human case was detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.
- The virus is endemic in parts of the West and Central Africa.
- But monkeypox raised concerns after cases were also reported in countries where the disease is not typically found.
As of Thursday (May 26), a total of 257 confirmed cases and 120 suspected cases were documented from 23 countries that are not endemic to the monkeypox virus, the WHO said. Notably, most of the cases detected so far have been found in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal. However, there have been no reported fatalities associated with the virus so far.
According to the WHO, the sudden appearance of monkeypox at once in multiple non-endemic nations implies undetected transmission for quite some time and any recent amplifying events. "The vast majority of reported cases so far have no established travel links to an endemic area," it noted. It further said it expects more cases to be detected as surveillance in endemic and non-endemic areas expands.
According to the WHO, the incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range between 5−21 days, too. Following this, fever, rash, severe headache, backache, muscle aches (myalgia), intense asthenia (lack of energy), and swollen lymph nodes kick in. Apart from the face, rashes affect the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, oral mucous membranes, genitalia, conjunctivae, and cornea.
Monkeypox spreads through "close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as bedding." A large number of cases were found amongst "men who have sex with other men (MSM) seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics," the WHO said. Since it is spread by close contact, it can be contained through measures such as self-isolation and proper hygiene.