The World Health Organization declared the recent Monkeypox outbreaks in several countries a global public health emergency on Saturday.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria” for a public health emergency, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement following the decision.
“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” he said.
The present monkeypox outbreak is “concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners,” Ghebreyesus added. “That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.”
The declaration came after Ghebreyesus convened the WHO’s Emergency Committee on Thursday for deliberations on whether to make the formal declaration.
The declaration would compel countries worldwide to invest more resources into treatment and vaccinations for the disease.
“On this occasion, the committee was unable to reach a consensus on whether the outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” Ghebreyesus said. Hence, on Saturday, Ghebreyesus overruled the committee to issue the declaration.
As of Friday, there were only 2,891 confirmed monkeypox cases in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but CDC data showed that the outbreak had struck in 46 states — all but Alaska, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming.
In his Saturday statement, Ghebreyesus said, “there are now more than 16 thousand reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths.”
WHO Monkeypox expert Dr. Rosambund Lewis said this week that around 99 percent of monkeypox cases outside Africa — where the disease mainly spreads through infected rodents — occurred in men, The Associated Press reported.
According to Lewis, 98% of the males infected with the disease outside Africa were homosexuals who engaged in sodomy with other men. Monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America spread mainly through intercourse at two raves in Belgium and Spain, the wire service reported.
One of the first monkeypox cases in the United States was linked to a homosexual parade in San Francisco, according to KNTV-TV.
Symptoms of Monkeypox include fever, chills, muscle ache, backache, headache and exhaustion, the CDC said.
A trademark symptom is a “rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.”
“Two vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available for preventing monkeypox infection — JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) and ACAM2000,” the CDC said.
“In the United States, there is currently a limited supply of JYNNEOS, although more is expected in coming weeks and months,” the agency added. “There is an ample supply of ACAM2000.
“However, this vaccine should not be used in people who have some health conditions, including a weakened immune system, skin conditions like atopic dermatitis / eczema, or pregnancy.”
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