The World Health Organization warned on Friday that there had been about 200 cases of monkeypox in recent weeks where the virus could only begin outside the countries where it is most commonly transmitted.
“We don’t know if we’re just seeing iceberg peaks,” Willow’s epidemic and epidemic preparedness and prevention chief, Sylvie Bryand, admitted in a briefing to countries about the “unusual” spread of the virus.
Since the UK first reported a confirmed monkeypox case on May 7, about 200 cases have been reported to the UN health agency that the virus is endemic in all states.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) puts the number of such cases at 219.
In a number of West and Central African countries, more than 20 other countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and about a dozen countries in the European Union, have been diagnosed with monkeypox.
The Spanish health ministry said on Friday that 98 cases had been confirmed so far, with Britain currently counting 90 confirmed infections.
Portugal has already registered 74 confirmed cases, with health authorities saying on Friday that all cases were among men, mainly those under 40 years of age.
No need to panic
“We are still at the very beginning of this event,” Brandt told delegates from member states attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
“We know we will have more cases in the coming days,” he said, adding that there was no need to panic.
“It’s not a disease that the general public should be concerned about. It’s not covid or other diseases that spread rapidly.”
Monkeypox is linked to smallpox, which killed millions of people worldwide each year before it was eradicated in 1980.
But monkeypox is much less deadly, with a mortality rate of three to six percent. Most people recover within three to four weeks.
Early symptoms include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash like chickenpox.
Although in many cases men have been linked to male sexual intercourse, experts insist there is no evidence that it was a sexually transmitted disease. Rather, it appears to be transmitted through close contact with an infected person who has blisters on the skin.
There is not much in the way of treatment, but there are some antivirals made against smallpox, one of which has recently been approved by the European Medicines Agency against smallpox, Brind noted.
Vaccines developed for smallpox have also been shown to be about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.
However, since smallpox has not posed a threat for more than four decades, most people under the age of 45 have not been vaccinated, and the supply of jabs is very limited today.
Bryand said experts were trying to determine if this “abnormal situation” had been triggered, adding that preliminary investigations did not show that the virus that caused the monkeypox had changed.
He hoped the spread could be stopped.
“We now have a good window of opportunity to turn off the transmission,” he said.
“If we put in the right measures now, we can probably handle it easily.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)