World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Friday told reporters that the recent decline in monkeypox cases in North America and Europe proved that shows that the current outbreak of the malady can be stopped.
Dr. Tedros, as he is most commonly referred to, argued that few people outside of Africa had heard of monkeypox until earlier this year but that it has become a household word in just a few months. It's encouraging to see that in some countries in Europe and North America we now see a sustained decline in cases, demonstrating the effectiveness of public health interventions and community engagement to track infections and prevent transmission, Ghebreyesus said.
These signs confirm what we have said consistently since the beginning: that with the right measures, this is an outbreak that can be stopped, he insisted. He added that it was easier to eliminate the virus in regions with no animal-to-human transmission. But it won't just happen. To stop the outbreak and eliminate this virus, we need, first of all, the evidence that it's possible, which we are now beginning to see.
Ghebreyesus also pointed out that we need political will and commitment; and the implementation of public health measures in the communities that need them most. And for those measures to be effective, community engagement is essential.
Although there have been only 16 deaths from monkeypox reported worldwide in the past few months, the number of cases has passed the total amount reported since the virus was first identified in 1958, Ghebreyesus noted. Although mortality is thankfully very low, many of those infected report severe pain that sometimes requires hospitalization, he added.
In this week's bulletin, the WHO also addressed the issue of an increase in the number of cases of severe acute hepatitis in 35 countries worldwide in the last four months among children, particularly those aged 5 or less.
The Geneva-based United Nations agency explained that no underlying cause is known at this time, however, there are early clues that a common virus called adenovirus may have a role either acting alone or as a co-infection with another virus such as COVID-19 and that there is no evidence for a link to COVID-19 vaccination, as almost none of the affected children had been vaccinated.
The number of cases has declined and the disease is becoming rarer. Most children recover fully, the WHO also said.
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