Activist countries

Monkeypox is spreading in more than 20 countries: WHO

New Delhi: The monkeypox virus has spread to more than 20 countries, with around 200 confirmed cases and more than 100 suspected cases in countries where it is not usually found, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The global health body has urged countries to increase infectious disease surveillance as outbreaks grow.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, said more cases of the rare viral illness are likely to be reported as surveillance expands, but added that the recent spread is manageable, CNBC reported.

“We expect more cases to be detected. We are asking countries to increase surveillance,” Van Kerkhove said during a question-and-answer session on the global health agency’s social media platforms.

“It is a manageable situation. It will be difficult, but it is a manageable situation in non-endemic countries.”

Since the first case reported on May 7, from the UK, monkeypox has spread across North America and Europe in recent weeks. The outbreak is caused by a milder West African strain of the virus and most patients recover within weeks.

No deaths have been reported so far.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the European Union (EU) has confirmed 118 cases of monkeypox. Spain and Portugal have reported the largest outbreaks in the EU with 51 and 37 cases respectively.

The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed 90 cases of the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified nine cases in seven states, while Canadian health authorities have confirmed 16 cases of monkeypox, all detected in the province of Quebec, according to the report.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted that some patients in the United States had not traveled to countries with active outbreaks, suggesting the virus is spreading domestically.

Health officials in those countries said the majority of patients were gay or bisexual men, with the virus in many cases being spread sexually.

However, officials pointed out that monkeypox can be spread to anyone through close physical contact, regardless of sexual orientation.

But monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. The virus can be spread through any type of sustained skin-to-skin contact with an infected person who has a lesion.

It can also be spread through bodily fluids, contaminated linens and clothing, or respiratory droplets if a person has a sore in their mouth.

Van Kerhkove suggested that medical professionals consider monkeypox as a diagnosis for patients with ill-considered illnesses who present to sexual health clinics, emergency departments, infectious disease clinics, primary care physicians and dermatologists, according to the report.

“It doesn’t mean that everyone with a rash will have monkeypox, but we need to raise awareness about what monkeypox is and isn’t, and we need to make sure countries have the capacity to test and provide the right information.”