WHO says there is a window of opportunity to limit the outbreak

The World Health Organization said there is a “window” of opportunity to contain a recent monkeypox outbreak that has seen widespread cases in Europe, the United States and Australia.

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The World Health Organization said Monday that it was too early to say whether a recent monkeypox epidemic it could lead to a global pandemic, but noted that there is currently a window of opportunity to curb the increase in cases.

The public health agency said there are “still many unknowns” regarding the peak of cases in non-endemic countries outside Africa. WHO said the virus should not be mistaken for Covid-19 and that the risks to the general public remain low.

“We don’t want people to panic or fear and think it’s like Covid or maybe worse,” said Sylvie Briand, WHO director for epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, during a briefing on the issue. epidemic.

“This monkeypox disease isn’t Covid-19, it’s a different virus,” he added.

Monkeypox is a rare but generally mild viral infection which can cause flu-like symptoms including skin rashes, fever, headache, body aches, swelling and back pain. It is typically transmitted through injuries, body fluids, or materials that have been in contact with an infected person or animal.

Although sporadic outbreaks of monkeypox are not uncommon in Central and West African countries where the virus is endemic, health experts have been puzzled by a recent spate of cases in Europe, North America and Australia, raising fears of spread in the country. community.

As of Sunday, there were 435 confirmed and suspected cases in 24 countries outside of Africa, according to Our world of data. No casualties have yet been recorded from the current outbreak.

A “window” of opportunity for containment

Asked Monday whether the recent outbreak could escalate into a pandemic, WHO’s chief technical officer for monkeypox, Rosamund Lewis, said, “The answer is we don’t know, but we don’t think it is.”

Monkeypox is a DNA virus, which means it contains DNA in its genetic material. Health experts don’t know much more about its genetic makeup yet, but current data suggests it is not transmitted or mutated as easily as other viruses such as Covid-19, an RNA virus.

“At the moment, we are not worried about a global pandemic,” Lewis said.

However, he noted that the rise in individual cases is a cause for concern as it may allow the virus to “exploit a niche” and spread more easily between people.

Collectively, the world has the opportunity to stop this outbreak. There is a window.

Rosamund Lewis

Technical Manager for Monkeypox at WHO

Lewis urged people and healthcare professionals to be aware of the growing risks of the virus and to keep an eye on symptoms. She added that gay and bisexual men should be especially aware of the virus, which has so far shown a particular concentration among them. men having sex with other menalthough it is not defined as a sexually transmitted disease.

“Collectively, the world has an opportunity to stop this outbreak. There is a window,” Lewis said.

Together with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the UK National Health Service, WHO has outlined a number of ways people can protect themselves against the virus, including the practice of good hygiene and safe sex.

Once a suspected case has been identified, they should be isolated until their lesions have caked and the scabs fall off and contact tracing should be initiated. Contacts of infected patients should be monitored for symptom onset for a period of 21 days and should not donate blood, cells, tissues, organs, breast milk or sperm while under surveillance for symptoms, the WHO said.

“Any case should be manageable through contact tracing and isolation,” Lewis added.