WHO warns current monkeypox cases are just ‘tip of the iceberg’
Hundreds of cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in the past month across Europe, North and South America, Israel, the UAE and Australia, however that may just be “the tip of the iceberg,” said the director. WHO’s Department of Diseases and Pandemic Sylvie Briand warned during a press conference.
Ms. Briand suggested that there may be “many more cases that go undetected in the community”, because monkeypox symptoms don’t show up right away. An infected person will initially experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a chickenpox-like rash on the face and body. Although there is no cure, the virus usually goes away within two to four weeks.
Ms. Briand encouraged people not to panic, stressing “this is not a disease that the public should be worried about. It is not Covid-19 or other rapidly spreading diseases”. WHO is still actively determining the exact source of the recent monkeypox outbreak. There is no indication that the monkeypox virus has mutated or become more dangerous.
The WHO convened an emergency meeting last week to discuss the outbreak.
Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family as the smallpox virus but is less severe. The disease occurs mainly in Central and West African countries, near tropical rainforests.
WHO official Maria van Kerkhove confirmed that the majority of cases detected outside Africa are in men who have sex with men. Initial reports of outbreaks in Belgium and Spain were linked to major gay festivals in these countries. Gay dating app Grindr released a message to European and UK users earlier this week alerting them to the outbreak and encouraging them to seek treatment if they experience symptoms.
More than 200 cases have been detected in 20 countries around the world, according to the WHO, with the majority of cases found in the UK. Belgium last week became the only country to declare a mandatory 21-day quarantine for those infected. WHO Europe Director, Hans Kluge, expressed concern that the disease could spread rapidly during the summer months, when festivals are frequent.
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