Hundreds more monkeypox cases have arisen outside of the African nations where the disease is typically found, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), indicating that the virus has likely been spreading under the radar.
“Investigations are ongoing,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Wednesday, “but the sudden appearance of monkeypox in many countries at the same time suggests there may have been undetected transmission for some time.”
More than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in 30 countries outside of the west and central African countries where it is endemic since the United Kingdom first reported a confirmed case on May 7, according to the WHO.
The development of so many cases over most of Europe and other countries where it has never been seen before, according to the UN’s top monkeypox specialist Rosamund Lewis, “is clearly a cause for concern, and it does suggest undetected transmission for a while.”
“We don’t know if it is weeks, months or possibly a couple for years,” she added, adding that “we don’t really know if it is too late to contain.”
Monkeypox is linked to smallpox, which killed millions worldwide each year before being eliminated in 1980.
Monkeypox, on the other hand, is a much milder disease that spreads by close contact and causes a high fever and a blistery chickenpox-like rash that clears up after a few weeks.
Although scientists emphasise that there is no proof that monkeypox is transmitted sexually, the majority of cases have been documented among males who have sex with men.
“Anyone can be infected with monkeypox if they have close physical contact with someone else who is infected” Tedros explained.
Tedro asked everyone to help “fight stigma, which is not just wrong, it could also prevent infected individuals from seeking care, making it harder to stop transmission.”
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SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES