The escalating monkeypox outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization to activate its highest alert level and declare the virus a public health emergency of global significance.
With the outbreak receiving the uncommon designation, the WHO has determined that a coordinated international response is required to stop the virus from spreading and perhaps developing into a pandemic.
The proclamation serves as an urgent call for action even though it does not impose any obligations on national governments. Only recommendations and advice, not mandates, may be given by the WHO to its member states. Events that pose a hazard to international health must be reported by member nations.
The U.N. government declined to issue a global emergency declaration in response to monkeypox last month. But during the past few weeks, infections have significantly increased, prompting WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to declare the highest alert.
The WHO's emergency committee meets before a global health emergency is proclaimed to assess the available data and offer a recommendation to the director general. Whether monkeypox is an emergency was a topic on which the committee could not agree. Based on the outbreak's quick global spread, Tedros, head of the WHO, decided to declare the highest level of alert.
According to Tedros, "We have an outbreak that has swiftly expanded over the world through novel routes of transmission, about which we understand too little.
All of these factors led me to the conclusion that the global monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency of concern on a global scale.
According to data from the WHO, more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported across more than 70 countries so far this year, and the number of illnesses that have been confirmed increased by 77% from late June to early July. Currently, the largest risk of infection is among guys who have sex with other men.
This year, the virus has been blamed for five documented deaths in Africa. So far, no fatalities have been reported outside of Africa.
According to the U.S., most people recover from monkeypox within two to four weeks. Department of Health and Human Services . The virus causes a rash that can spread over the body.
Those who have contracted the virus reported that the rash, which resembles pimples or blisters, can be very painful.
Because the virus is rarely seen in North American and European countries, the present monkeypox outbreak is extremely unusual. In isolated areas of West and Central Africa where rats and other animals carry the virus, monkeypox has historically spread at low rates.
The outbreak is presently centered in Europe, where more than 80% of confirmed illnesses will occur globally in 2022. More than 2,500 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States thus far, spanning 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
According to Tedros, there is a low overall risk of monkeypox, but a significant risk in Europe. Although it's unlikely to now affect international trade or travel, there is certainly a chance that the virus will continue to spread throughout the world, he added.
Early in May, monkeypox was discovered in a person who had just returned from a trip to Nigeria in the United Kingdom. After a few days, the U.K. reported three additional instances of monkeypox in individuals who looked to have contracted the disease locally. Then, cases started to be confirmed in other European countries, Canada, and the United States. Where the outbreak actually started is unknown.
Early in May, monkeypox was discovered in a person who had just returned from a trip to Nigeria in the United Kingdom.
After a few days, the U.K. reported three additional instances of monkeypox in individuals who looked to have contracted the disease locally. Then, cases started to be confirmed in other European countries, Canada, and the United States. Where the outbreak actually started is unknown.
Monkeypox is not a new virus
Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is not a newly discovered virus. Scientists originally identified monkeypox in 1958 while studying caged monkeys in Denmark. The first human case of the virus was identified in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1970.
Despite producing a less severe illness, monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox. Smallpox was declared extinct in 1980, but the WHO and national health organizations have decades of experience battling the disease. Health experts will have crucial information to battle monkeypox thanks to the successful war against smallpox and the tools created against it.
In the past, human-to-human transmission of monkeypox was quite uncommon; typically, the virus spread from animals to people. But the spread of monkeypox among people has accelerated recently. According to the WHO, before to the global pandemic, the international community did not devote enough resources to combating monkeypox in Africa.