Monkeypox has now been deemed a ‘multi-country’ outbreak, with suspected cases reported from 8 African countries, according to the World Health Organisation. Now, the WHO is taking the matter to an “emergency meeting” status.
From 13 May this year, various cases have been reported, but many were not endemic to the virus, making their spread a point of focus.
The initial cluster of cases appeared in the UK, but no travel links to endemic areas were initially established.
As of its most recent data, the WHO records that the majority of cases stem from Europe (87%).
Now, as cases continue to grow in unprecedented geographic expansion, as per Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO has turned its focus to assessing the global risk level, laying the path for an emergency committee meeting on the spread.
Tedros added that the situation is “unusual” and that there are more than 1700 confirmed suspected cases from countries where the virus is not usually found.
In Africa, 59 cases and 72 deaths have been recorded, but the “case fatality ratio” in the African region is where the pain point lies.
The meeting is set to take place on June 23, and the WHO has assessed the global health risk level as moderate at this interval.
The WHO further added that “Although the current risk to human health and to the general public remains low, the public health risk would be greater if this virus exploits the opportunity to establish itself as a widespread human pathogen.”
The virus is said to enter the body through “broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).” Respiratory contact through droplets is reportedly common, but this occurs through close contact, as droplets can’t travel vast distances. Other direct contacts with body fluids or lesion material (indirect) can also make for transmission, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Transmission from an animal can include being bitten, scratched, bush meat preparation, “direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material” ie: contaminated bedding, the CDC notes.