NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – In a world exhausted by two-plus years of the coronavirus pandemic, another disease, monkeypox, continues to spread more rapidly than ever before.
It’s a very different virus from the one that causes COVID-19, and is much harder to transmit, but it can land patients in the hospital and even kill. Monkeypox can also leave the infected disfigured: The pus-filled lesions that pock the skin—anywhere from a few to thousands—can leave permanent scars.
So far, 61 countries on six continents have recorded 7,492 cases, with a 82 percent increase in new infections since June 27.
“There is simply no room for complacency …”
In the United States, monkeypox has breached 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Cases currently number 700 and while most illness has been relatively mild, there have been three confirmed deaths in Africa.
The disease is largely circulating in a particular network, men who have sex with men.
But it’s likely that “a significant number of cases are not being picked up,” says World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Beyond limited testing, some patients present with relatively few lesions, further complicating the case count.
Transmission has entered uncharted territory, with monkeypox cases among people who haven’t traveled to Africa—where the virus is endemic—and infections popping up in new places.
“There is simply no room for complacency—especially right here in the European Region with its fast-moving outbreak that with every hour, day, and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas,” Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement.
WHO’s Emergency Committee will reconsider whether the outbreak constitutes a global public health emergency the week of July 18. They noted that controlling the spread of monkeypox requires “intense response efforts.”
This current multi-country outbreak was “a surprise,” but “not surprising,” says Rosamund Lewis, who serves as the monkeypox technical lead at the WHO.
Cases have been rising for decades in Africa … READ MORE.