The World Health Organization has issued its highest possible alert over monkeypox, reports Helen Keenan
Monkeypox has been declared a 'global health emergency' by the World Health Organization (WHO) after a surge in cases.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision to issue the declaration on Saturday despite the WHO’s emergency committee being unable to reach a consensus.
Declaring a global emergency means the monkeypox outbreak is an “extraordinary event” that could spill over into more countries and requires a coordinated global response.
The WHO previously declared emergencies for public health crises such as the Covid pandemic, the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, the Zika virus in Latin America in 2016 and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries since around May.
Saturday's declaration could spur further investment in treating the disease and worsen the scramble for scarce vaccines.
To date, monkeypox deaths have only been reported in Africa, where a more dangerous version of the virus is spreading, mainly in Nigeria and Congo.
Monkeypox is a rare infection. It's mainly spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa, which is what makes the recent cases elsewhere in the world unusual.
In Europe, North America and elsewhere, monkeypox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa.
The WHO’s top monkeypox expert, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, said this week that 99% of all the monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and that of those, 98% involved men who have sex with men.
Experts suspect the outbreaks in Europe and North America were spread via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
It usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms of the infection to appear.
The first symptoms of monkeypox include:
a high temperature
A rash, which often begins on the face before spreading, usually appears one to five days after the first symptoms.
The rash, sometimes confused with chickenpox, starts as raised spots before becoming small fluid-filled blisters. The blisters eventually form scabs and later fall off.
Symptoms usually clear up in two to four weeks.
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