Monkeypox Epidemic Evolving Rapidly
The World Health Organization (WHO) says its investigating more
than 250 cases of monkeypox outside of Africa, although officials
for the U.N. health agency say they dont believe it will morph into
The WHO stated on May 29 that it has received reports of 257
confirmed cases and about 120 suspected cases of the virus in 23
countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has
reported 14 cases in eight states as of May 29.
The situation is evolving rapidly and WHO expects that there will
be more cases identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic
countries, as well as in countries known to be endemic who have
not recently been reporting cases, the U.N. agency stated on May
Asked whether this monkeypox outbreak has the potential to grow
into a pandemic, Rosamund Lewis, technical lead for monkeypox
from the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said, We dont
know, but we dont think so.
At the moment, we are not concerned of a global pandemic, Lewis
said. But the WHO also stated in its update: The public health risk
could become high if this virus 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
No monkeypox-related deaths have been reported in either the United
States or in any of the other non-African countries. Health officials
in the United States and with the WHO have previously said
monkeypox, which includes symptoms of swollen lymph nodes and
body lesions, doesnt spread as easily as COVID-19, a respiratory
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close
contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and
contaminated materials such as bedding, the WHO stated.
The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days
but can range from 5 to 21 days.
While the virus isnt considered to be a sexually transmitted
disease, the WHO again stated that its being primarily spread via
homosexual males. Earlier this month, the agency said there were
two outbreaks at two rave-like events in Spain and Belgium.
Early epidemiology of initial cases notified to WHO by countries
shows that cases have been mainly reported amongst homosexuals,
the agency stated on May 29. Since 2017, the few deaths of persons
with monkeypox in West Africa have been associated with young
age or an untreated HIV infection.
While its related to smallpox, a virus that has killed tens of
millions of people in pandemics throughout history, monkeypox is
considered less severe, according to the WHO. The lesions and
rashes eventually blister and scab over, and the illness generally
lasts between two and four weeks.