(ORDO NEWS) — The WHO said that in countries where monkeypox does not normally circulate, about 200 cases of the disease have already been identified, CNBC reports. WHO COVID-19 response expert Maria Van Kerkhove says cases will increase in the future, but “the situation can be contained.”
The World Health Organization said monkeypox has now spread to more than 20 countries, urging countries to step up surveillance of the infectious disease, CNBC reports.
Nearly 200 confirmed and more than 100 suspected cases of monkeypox have been identified outside countries where it normally circulates, according to WHO COVID-19 response expert Maria Van Kerkhove. Van Kerkhove added that as surveillance expands, new cases of the rare disease are likely to be reported; however, the spread of smallpox can be contained.
“We expect more cases to be identified. We ask countries to step up surveillance. This situation can be contained. It will be difficult, but in non-endemic countries the situation can be contained,” the expert wrote on her social networks.
Monkeypox has spread to North America and Europe in recent weeks, causing outbreaks in countries outside of Central and West Africa, where the virus has been circulating at low levels for the past four decades. The outbreaks are caused by a milder West African strain of the virus, and most patients recover within a few weeks, according to the channel. So far, no deaths have been reported.
There are 118 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the European Union, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The largest outbreaks in the EU occurred in Spain and Portugal, with 51 and 37 cases respectively. According to the UK Health Security Agency, 90 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the country.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine cases of monkeypox have been identified in the country in seven states. The Canadian Health Service has confirmed 16 cases in the province of Quebec.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday that some of the cases in the United States were not in the countries where the outbreaks were recorded, suggesting that the virus is spreading domestically. Walensky said they are conducting contact tracing and trying to break the chains of transmission of the virus in the United States.
Transmission of infection occurs by airborne droplets with prolonged personal contact, as well as through body fluids and household items, such as bed linen or clothing. The virus usually starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, chills, headache, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. Then a rash appears on the body, which eventually turns into blisters filled with pus, which eventually dry up and fall off.
Van Kerckhove urged healthcare professionals to consider monkeypox a diagnosis for patients who present to sexual health clinics, emergency departments, infection clinics, primary care physicians and dermatologists with rashes.
“This does not mean that everyone who has a rash will have monkeypox, but we must raise awareness of what is monkeypox and what is not, and we must ensure that countries are able to test and provide the correct information,” — quotes CNBC the words of a WHO expert.
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