WHO declares rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency: The World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of worldwide significance and activated its highest alert level.
As a result of this exceptional designation, the World Health Organization now regards the outbreak as a big enough threat to world health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially growing into an epidemic.
In spite of the fact that the proclamation doesn’t actually mandate anything, it functions as an urgent call to action. Only suggestions and recommendations can be issued by the WHO to its member countries, not mandates. In the event of a global health crisis, member states are obligated to notify the United Nations.
Monkeypox was not declared a worldwide emergency by the United Nations last month. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has issued the highest level of warning due to an upsurge in infections over the past several weeks.
To determine if a global health emergency is warranted, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee convenes. In the end, there was no agreement on whether monkeypox was an emergency or not. Because of the rapid spread of the outbreak around the world, Tedros, the WHO’s leader, decided to issue the highest level of alert.
According to Tedros: “We have an outbreak which has spread swiftly, through new means of transmission, about which we know too little.” I’ve come to the conclusion that the worldwide outbreak of monkeypox is a public health emergency of international importance for all of these reasons.
There have been more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox reported across more than 70 countries so far this year, according to WHO data, and the number of confirmed infections rose 77% from late June to early July. Guys who have intercourse with other men are currently at the greatest risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
This year, the virus has claimed the lives of five people in Africa. So yet, there have been no fatalities outside of Africa.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of monkeypox victims recover within two to four weeks. If you get infected with this virus, you may notice a red rash on your body. The rash, which resembles pimples or blisters, is believed to be quite painful by those who have been infected.
The present outbreak of monkeypox in North America and Europe is extremely unusual, as the virus is rarely detected in these regions. In isolated areas of West and Central Africa, monkeypox has spread at low levels due to the dissemination of the virus by rodents and other animals.
More than 80% of confirmed illnesses in 2022 were reported in Europe, making it the hub of the outbreak. 2,500 instances of monkeypox have been documented throughout 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, according to data compiled so far by the United States government.
According to Tedros, monkeypox poses a low global danger, but a high risk in Europe. It’s possible the virus will spread around the world, but it’s unlikely to impact global trade or travel at this time, he said.
The United Kingdom reported a monkeypox case in a recent traveller to Nigeria in early May. More monkeypox cases were discovered in the United Kingdom some days later in people who had been afflicted locally. The instances were confirmed in other European countries, Canada, and the United States as well. The outbreak’s origins remain a mystery.
After the Covid-19 outbreak in January 2020, the WHO announced a global health emergency and two months later labelled it a pandemic. According to the WHO’s organisational laws, the term “pandemic” has no formal definition. In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed Covid a pandemic because of the virus’s “alarming levels of transmission and severity.”
Doctor Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s top monkeypox expert, told reporters in May that the UN health agency was unconcerned about monkeypox triggering a global pandemic. Dr. She asserted that public health officials had a little window of time to stop the pandemic.
Disease experts fear that the outbreak has not been contained and that monkeypox will spread to nations where the virus has not previously been discovered, save in cases linked to travel.
The virus that causes monkeypox is not new.
Monkeypox, in contrast to Covid-19, is not a newly discovered pathogen. In 1958, scientists in Denmark identified monkeypox in study monkeys, and the first human infection with the virus was verified in 1970 in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The virus that causes monkeypox is related to the smallpox virus, but the sickness is far less severe. Smallpox was proclaimed eradicated in 1980 after decades of effort by the WHO and national health organizations. Efforts against smallpox and the instruments that were developed to combat it will help health officials tackle monkeypox in the future.
It used to be rare for monkeypox to spread from person to person, and instead the virus usually made its way from animal to human. However, the propagation of monkeypox has become more efficient among humans. In an effort to prevent a global outbreak of monkeypox, the WHO blames the international community for not dedicating enough resources to the fight.
“We don’t fully understand what drives transmission in those nations,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergency division, earlier this week. “This transmission has been occurring in African countries in two specific zones for a long time.” A lot more research and money needs to be put into figuring out what’s going on here.
At the largest risk are gay and bisexual guys.
Sexual contact is the primary method of transmission for monkeypox. Since the bulk of transmission has occurred in the gay community, males who have sex with men are at the highest risk. Monkeypox can infect anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, according to the WHO and CDC.
Researchers in Spain and Italy have found monkeypox virus DNA in the semen of patients who had the disease, but the virus’ ability to propagate through sperm is yet unknown. DNA from monkeypox was also found in saliva by the Spanish researchers.
People who are infected but do not show any signs of the virus are said to be transmitting it asymptomatically, but that has not been proven yet.
Most instances outside Africa are among men, according to WHO monkeypox expert Lewis, and 98 percent of infections occur in males who have recently had several or new sexual partners. The virus has been detected outside of the gay community, but so far there has been little spread. Two cases of monkeypox were verified by the CDC on Friday.
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay and bisexual men while also stressing the importance of communicating the reality of how the virus is currently spreading so that people in high-risk communities can take action to protect their health.
According to Lewis, the public wants to know how to protect itself and under what conditions they might be at risk of becoming infected. Prior to this summer’s main events and festivals, health officials and community organizers must widely communicate information on how to limit the risk of infection, she said.
There are human rights breaches that will sabotage the public health response to this pandemic, Tedros said. He urged governments around the world to ensure that people’s fundamental rights be protected as they respond to the Ebola epidemic.
“We seek your strong commitment to uphold human dignity, human rights so that we can control this outbreak,” Tedros said.
Symptoms and potential causes of disease
Those with a rash that looks like monkeypox, according to the CDC, should refrain from having sexual relations with those persons, and those with several partners or anonymous partners should reduce their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Sex parties and other occasions where people don’t wear much clothing should also be avoided.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who have sex with a partner who has monkeypox follow the agency’s advice on reducing their risk.
Flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches and pains in the muscles as well as swollen lymph nodes are typical with monkeypox. Following this progression, the disease manifested as a widespread rash. When the rash appears, patients are considered the most contagious.
The latest outbreak, on the other hand, has exhibited unusual signs. People with flu-like symptoms are acquiring a rash initially, while others show no symptoms at all. Localized rash on the anus and genitals has appeared in many patients.
It’s possible to confuse the rash with other prevalent sexually transmitted infections, according to the CDC and WHO. Patients who test positive for a sexually transmitted disease should not exclude out monkeypox, according to the group’s advice to doctors.
According to the CDC, monkeypox can be transmitted via respiratory droplets, although this approach necessitates prolonged face-to-face contact. Small aerosol particles like Covid, according to health professionals, do not facilitate the spread of monkeypox. As a result of their bigger droplets, respiratory droplets do not remain airborne for as long as Covid, which is why it is so contagious.
Contact with infected objects, such as bedsheets and clothing, can potentially spread monkeypox.
There is some risk of transmission, but not a great deal. “It is a disease that can be contained,” Ryan remarked. Do not be the person who spreads this disease, as we said in Covid.”
Because monkeypox is an old virus, vaccinations and antivirals are available to prevent and treat the sickness it causes, but supplies are limited. Vaccines called Jynneos are already being distributed in large numbers in the United States in an effort to stop the spread of the disease. There is now a two-dose vaccine for persons 18 and older who are at high risk of monkeypox or smallpox infection that was licenced by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019.
Approximately 786,000 additional Jynneos pills have been shipped to the United States by the Biden administration since May. The Department of Health and Human Services has placed an additional order for 5 million pills, which will be delivered by 2023.
Demand for monkeypox vaccines is outpacing availability in the United States, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, leading to long queues in outbreak hotspots like New York City.
Denmark-based biotech business Bavarian Nordic produces Jynneos. According to a company spokeswoman, Bavarian Nordic now has up to 5 million doses available for export outside of the United States. Although the spokesperson said that 40 million liquid frozen and 8 million freeze dried doses could be filled annually by Bavarian Nordic, the spokesperson was wrong.
ACAM2000, developed by Emergent BioSolutions, is an older generation smallpox vaccine that is likely useful in preventing monkeypox. The United States owns over 100 million doses of this vaccine. In addition, ACAM2000 can cause serious adverse effects and is not suggested for persons with weak immune systems, including HIV patients, those with specific skin diseases, and pregnant women.
Immunity conferred by ACAM2000 is based on a moderate virus strain in the same family as monkeypox and smallpox. Although the vaccination strain is a mild one, recipients of ACAM2000 must take steps to ensure that they do not disseminate the virus to others or get a rash that spreads from the injection site. Because the Jynneos vaccination does not use a reproducing virus strain, it does not carry this danger.
According to the CDC, there is no data on the efficacy of monkeypox vaccines in the present outbreak.
As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not advocate widespread vaccination at this time, and the United States is reserving its vaccine supply for those who have been exposed to monkeypox in the past. Smallpox and monkeypox vaccinations, on the other hand, can be given after exposure, unlike Covid, because of the long incubation time of these viruses. According to the CDC, the vaccines must be given within four days of exposure in order to have the best chance of working.