GENEVA, Sat. July 23, 2022
During a briefing in Geneva today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Monkey Pox a public health emergency of international concern. The virus has spread to at least 75 countries so far and has caused five deaths in Africa so far this year. WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the virus is spread via close contact and causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions.
This declaration is the highest-level alert from the WHO and is designed to trigger international coordination and response that could unlock funding and lead to collaboration in the distribution of vaccines and treatment. At this time, a vaccine for monkeypox exists and an altered version of the smallpox vaccine is also being used to inoculate against monkeypox.
“Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment, this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners,” Director General Tedros said.
Andy Seale, an expert from WHO, said in a briefing on Saturday, “We’re seeing cases that are largely focused on men, and when we look at those cases we are noticing actually that it’s men who have sex with men, men who identify as gay, bisexual or who have sex with other men, who have perhaps reported through sexual health clinics.”
He said that there have been some cases reported in women and children, but those have been very limited.
“We have to respond to the data we have to really look at targeting our resources where we know the infections are happening, and at the moment it’s really happening within this particular group,” Seale said.
Director General Tedros said that in addition to the recommendations issued to countries across the globe, WHO is also calling on civil society organizations with experience working with persons living with HIV to help fight the stigma and discrimination now associated with the monkeypox virus.
The CDC warned that prolonged face-to-face contact can cause the spread, but it can also be spread through bodily fluids, lesions, contaminated clothing, and bedding.
Tedros in Saturday’s briefing said, “The risk of monkeypox is moderate globally, and in all regions except in the European region where we assess this risk is high. There is also a grave risk of further international spread, although the risk of interface with international traffic remains low for the moment.”