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Montevideo, August 14th 2022 - 11:49 UTC



Monkeypox far from becoming a pandemic, WHO experts explain

Tuesday, May 31st 2022 - 09:37 UTC
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UKHSA announced it had detected 71 new cases of monkeypox among humans in England UKHSA announced it had detected 71 new cases of monkeypox among humans in England

A leading World Health Organization (WHO) scientist has been reported as saying there were no concerns about the monkeypox outbreak ever evolving into a pandemic like COVID-19.

“This monkeypox disease is not COVID-19. It is a different virus,” according to Sylvie Briand, WHO director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention. “We don't want people to panic or be afraid and think that it's like COVID or maybe worse,” she added.

Experts also explained the outbreak was well below the pandemic threshold, with about 250 confirmed cases worldwide.

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced it had detected 71 new human cases of monkeypox in England, bringing the total number of confirmed infections since May 7 to 179. Despite this report, UKHSA insisted the risk to the population remained low, although it did advise those in contact with the known cases to self-isolate for 21 days.

Briand also said probably the biggest difference between COVID-19 and monkeypox was that the latter is much harder to contract, because it is typically transmitted through lesions, body fluids, or materials that have been in contact with an infected person or animal.

Before the WHO declares a pandemic, the disease needs to spread globally, and also a sustained transmission among humans must be registered.

“At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” WHO's Rosamund Lewis said. “We are concerned that individuals may acquire this infection through high-risk exposure if they don't have the information they need to protect themselves,” she added.

“Early epidemiology of initial cases notified to WHO by countries shows that cases have been mainly reported amongst men who have sex with men,” the WHO said in a statement. One case in a non-endemic country is considered an outbreak. The sudden and simultaneous appearance of the malady in several non-endemic countries suggests there may have been undetected transmission for some time as well as recent amplifying events, according to the experts.

The UKHSA has stocked a safe smallpox vaccine (called Imvanex, supplied by Bavarian Nordic) and is offering it to close contacts of those diagnosed with monkeypox to reduce the risk of symptomatic infection and severe illness.

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