World Health Organization confirms 80 cases of monkeypox with outbreaks in 11 countries


This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows oval-shaped mature monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner | CDC via AP

The World Health Organization has confirmed around 80 cases of monkeypox with recent outbreaks reported in 11 countries, according to a statement issued Friday by the world health agency.

The outbreaks are unusual because they occur in countries where the virus is not endemic, according to the WHO. More cases will likely be reported in the coming days as surveillance expands, the global health agency said.

“WHO is working with affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support those who may be affected, and to provide advice on how to manage the disease,” the statement said. WHO.

European nations have confirmed dozens of cases in the continent’s largest ever outbreak of monkeypox, according to the German military. The United States has confirmed at least one case and Canada has confirmed two. Monkeypox is usually found in central and western African countries with tropical forests where animals carrying the virus live, according to the WHO.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox but not as serious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, monkeypox can kill 1 in 10 people who contract the disease based on observations in Africa, according to the CDC.

According to the WHO and the CDC, the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective in preventing monkeypox based on observational studies in Africa.

Monkeypox is transmitted through close contact with people, animals or material infected with the virus. It enters the body through damaged skin, respiratory tract, eyes, nose and mouth. Although human-to-human transmission is also thought to occur through respiratory droplets, this requires prolonged face-to-face contact because droplets cannot travel more than a few feet, according to the CDC.

Monkeypox typically begins with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes, according to the CDC. Within 1-3 days of the onset of fever, patients develop a rash that begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. The illness usually lasts about 2 to 4 weeks.

“As monkeypox spreads through close contact, the response should focus on those affected and their close contacts,” the WHO said. According to the WHO, healthcare workers, household members and sexual partners of people infected with the virus are at greater risk of contracting the disease.

The US CDC confirmed a case of monkeypox in Massachusetts on Wednesday. The person had recently traveled to Canada using private transportation. New York City is investigating a possible case of monkeypox, according to a health department statement Thursday.

The United States experienced an outbreak of monkeypox in 2003, the first outside of Africa, which was caused by human contact with infected prairie dogs kept as pets. The 2003 outbreak resulted in over 70 cases.

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