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Monkeypox is an infectious viral disease that can be serious but does not always lead to death. The World Health Organization has now declared the highest alert level about this outbreak, and with it comes an urgent call addressed to all countries.
With this new declaration, it is clear that the World Health Organization sees the Monkeypox virus and its outbreak as a potential threat to countries around the globe. As a result, they are calling on leaders from all over the world to work together to scale down and prevent the spread of the virus.
While the WHO is a powerful agency that can disseminate recommendations and guidelines, it cannot force countries into compliance. However, it is known that the agency’s alerts caught world leaders’ attention.
Last month, the World Health Organization hesitated to declare the Monkeypox outbreak a global emergency. But with an unprecedented rise in cases, the agency, headed by Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was compelled to raise it past its previous alert level.
The emergency committee met and discussed the conditions for issuing a highest-level alert for the outbreak. The findings will be forwarded to the director general. However, after careful discussions, they could not come to a consensus, so Tedros decided to issue the alert level.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” Tedros stated. “For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
The number of reported cases involving the Monkeypox virus is on record at 16,000 from 70 countries. This figure accounts for a 77% increase from June to July. According to the data by the WHO, many transmissions are attributed to same-sex activities.
Few people have died from this virus so far, but it is still unknown how many more will contract the disease if the alert is not raised. Monkeypox causes five reported deaths, and all cases come from Africa.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most people who contract Monkeypox recover as early as two weeks. However, there may be longer healing periods depending on the health background or how severely an individual was infected with the virus. Some recover after four weeks.
Those infected with Monkeypox experience symptoms like fever, fatigue and many more. The most obvious symptom is a rash that looks like blisters or pimples that spreads across the body. These blisters are painful when touched.
The ‘unusual virus’
The current outbreak is unusual as it has been spreading across regions where the virus hasn’t breached. The usual areas of spread for this particular type are West and Central Africa, where it is endemic. However, the rate of spread in the endemic areas is lower than in the areas where it has just entered.
The Monkeypox outbreak’s epicenter is Europe, which accounts for 80% of the total reported cases. In the US, over 2,500 people have been diagnosed in 44 states, including Washington State and Puerto Rico.
It is not certain where the spread began, but according to experts, it could have started in Nigeria. A few days after a person from England traveled there and returned home, the individual tested positive for Monkeypox. However, authorities have recorded local transmissions, which suggest that cases were locally spread.
United States, Canada and many other European countries then detected cases within their borders.
The WHO has been very reactive in its approach to outbreaks. The last they declared the highest level was in January 2020 for the Covid-19 endemic, which eventually became a pandemic.
According to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the lead expert on Monkeypox, the current virus outbreak is far from being categorized as a pandemic.
The expert panel is warning that Monkeypox could potentially take hold in many more countries and even permanently reside there.
“This transmission has been occurring in African countries in two particular zones over a large number of years, and we don’t fully understand what’s driving transmission in those countries,” stated Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s health emergencies program. “There’s a lot more investigation to do and a lot more investment to make in understanding that problem.”
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