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World Health Organisation Update On Monkeypox

As cases of the monkeypox increase, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said monkeypox cases have mainly, but not exclusively, been identified amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics.

Cases of monkeypox were first recorded on 13 May 2022 in Europe and North America and now about 12 WHO member states that have in the past not regularly reported the monkeypox virus, across three WHO regions.

WHO says the virus is endemic in some animal populations in a number of countries, leading to occasional outbreaks among local people and travellers. The recent outbreaks reported across 12 countries so far are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries. Said WHO in a statement Saturday:

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, however, reported cases thus far have no established travel links to endemic areas. Based on currently available information, cases have mainly but not exclusively been identified amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics.

The objective of this Disease Outbreak News is to raise awareness, inform readiness and response efforts, and provide technical guidance for immediate recommended actions.

The situation is evolving and WHO expects there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries. Immediate actions focus on informing those who may be most at risk for monkeypox infection with accurate information, in order to stop further spread. Current available evidence suggests that those who are most at risk are those who have had close physical contact with someone with monkeypox, while they are symptomatic. WHO is also working to provide guidance to protect frontline health care providers and other health workers who may be at risk such as cleaners. WHO will be providing more technical recommendations in the coming days. 

Description of the outbreak

As of 21 May, 13:00, 92 laboratory-confirmed cases, and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox with investigations ongoing have been reported to WHO from 12 Member States that are not endemic to monkeypox virus, across three WHO regions. See the table below: 

CountryConfirmedSuspected
Australia1-5
Belgium1-51-5
Canada1-511-20
France1-51-5
Germany1-5
Italy1-5
Netherlands1-5
Portugal21-30
Spain21-306-10
Sweden1-5
United Kingdom21-30
United States of America1-5
Total9228

How Does it Spread & Symptoms:

i). Monkeypox spreads through close contact, therefore, people who closely interact with someone who is infectious are at greater risk for infection: this includes health workers, household members and sexual partners.

ii). Contact with live and dead animals through hunting and consumption of wild game or bush meat are known risk factors.

iii). Monkeypox can be transmitted by droplet exposure via exhaled large droplets and by contact with infected skin lesions or contaminated materials.

iv). The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. 

v). The disease is often self-limiting with symptoms usually resolving spontaneously within 14 to 21 days.

vi). Symptoms can be mild or severe, and lesions can be very itchy or painful. The animal reservoir remains unknown, although is likely to be among rodents.

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