London, May 28 (BNA): The World Health Organization said nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries where unusual outbreaks of the disease are not usually known, but described the epidemic as “containable” and suggested creating a stockpile of it. . For equitable participation in the limited vaccines and medicines available worldwide, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
During a public briefing on Friday, the UN health agency said there were still many unanswered questions about the cause of the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa, but that there was no evidence that any genetic changes in the virus were responsible.
“The first sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is no different from the strains we can find in endemic countries, and it is likely that (this outbreak) is due to a change in human behaviour,” said Dr Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of epidemic. and epidemic diseases.
Earlier this week, the WHO’s top adviser said outbreaks in Europe, the United States, Israel, Australia and beyond were likely sex-related at two recent parties in Spain and Belgium. This represents a significant departure from the usual pattern of outbreaks in Central and West Africa, where people are primarily infected by animals such as wild rodents and primates, and the outbreak has not spread across borders.
Although the World Health Organization has said that nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported, this seems likely an underestimate. And the Spanish authorities said, on Friday, that the number of cases there rose to 98, including a woman “directly linked” to a chain of transmission that was previously limited to men, according to officials in the Madrid region.
British officials added 16 more cases to their monkeypox tally, bringing the total number of monkeypox cases to 106 in Britain, while Portugal said its number of cases jumped to 74. On Friday, authorities in Argentina reported that a Buenos Aires man had contracted monkeypox, the first infection in Latin America. Officials said the man had recently traveled to Spain and is now experiencing symptoms consistent with monkeypox, including blisters and fever.
Doctors in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Canada, the United States and elsewhere have noted that the majority of infections so far have been in gay and bisexual men, or men who have sex with men. The disease is not likely to infect people because of their sexual orientation and scientists warn that the virus can infect others if its transmission is not curbed.
Depending on how outbreaks are developing in Africa, the current situation appears to be “containable”, said WHO’s Briand.
However, she said the WHO expects to see more cases reported in the future, noting, “We don’t know if we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg (or) whether there are many undetected cases in the communities.” .
As countries including Britain, Germany, Canada and the United States begin evaluating how to use smallpox vaccines to stop the outbreak, the World Health Organization said its group of experts is evaluating the evidence and will provide guidance soon.
There is “no need for mass vaccination,” said Dr Rosamund Lewis, head of the WHO’s Smallpox Division, explaining that monkeypox does not spread easily and usually requires skin-to-skin contact for transmission. No specific vaccines against monkeypox have been developed, but the World Health Organization estimates that smallpox vaccines are 85% effective.
She said countries with vaccine supplies could consider them for those at high risk of contracting the disease, such as close contacts of patients or health workers, but monkeypox could often be controlled by isolating contacts and continuing epidemiological investigations.
Given the limited global supply of smallpox vaccines, WHO’s head of emergencies Dr Mike Ryan said the agency will work with its member states to develop a centrally controlled stockpile, similar to the ones it helped distribute during outbreaks of yellow fever, meningitis and cholera in countries that can’t bear its costs.
“We are talking about providing vaccines for a targeted vaccination campaign and for targeted therapies,” Ryan said. “So the volumes don’t necessarily need to be large, but each country may need to have access to a small amount of the vaccine.”
Most patients with monkeypox have fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop rashes and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.