More than a hundred confirmed or suspected cases, the World Health Organization advances. Experts explain what to watch out for
More cases of a rare disease were reported around the world, including in the United States – where a health official said he expected more cases in the coming days.
As of Saturday, 92 confirmed and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox were under investigation in 12 countries, the World Health Organization said in a press release.
Confirmed cases have been identified in Germany, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Sweden. The US alone had between one and five confirmed cases of smallpox as of Saturday, the WHO said.
“The situation is evolving and the WHO expects that there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries,” according to the press release.
Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, told ABC he wouldn’t be surprised if the US sees “a few more” cases of smallpox in the coming days. “But I feel like this is a virus that we understand, we have vaccines against it, we have treatments against it, and it spreads very differently than SARS-CoV-2” — the virus that causes Covid-19, Jha told ABC on Sunday.
“It’s not as contagious as Covid. So I’m confident we’ll be able to catch it,” said Jha. “But we’re going to track it very closely and use the tools we have to make sure we can continue to stop the spread and take care of infected people.”
Health experts say that spreading the monkeypox virus from monkeys requires close contact with an infected person.
The infection can develop after exposure to “wounded skin, mucous membranes, respiratory droplets, infected body fluids or even contact with contaminated clothing,” according to Neil Mabbott, director of immunopathology at the University of Edinburgh’s veterinary school, in Scotland.
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While experts say monkeypox isn’t as contagious as Covid-19, US President Joe Biden has recommended that everyone should be concerned about the spread of monkeypox — even as scientists work to learn more. about the recent outbreak.
“They haven’t told me the exposure level yet, but it’s something everyone should be concerned about,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins as he left South Korea on Sunday.
“We’re working hard to find out what we do and what vaccine, if any, might be available,” Biden said. “It’s a concern that, if it spreads, will have consequences. That’s all I’ve been told.”
CNN has already reported that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is evaluating whether a smallpox vaccine should be offered to healthcare professionals who treat monkeypox patients and others who may be at “high risk” of exhibition.
The viruses that cause smallpox and monkeypox are somewhat related, as they are both members of the genus Orthopoxvirus – belonging to the same scientific family of viruses. Therefore, some of the same vaccines given to prevent smallpox have also been shown to prevent monkeypox.
The initial symptoms of smallpox are typically flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache, and muscle weakness.
“One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said. After that, a generalized rash usually appears on the face and body – including inside the mouth, on the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet.
The painful, raised rashes are pearl-colored and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles. The lesions eventually heal and disappear within two to three weeks, the CDC said.
Historically, monkeypox cases are typically reported in West or Central Africa, according to Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging Infectious and Zootic Diseases.
“We have a level of scientific concern about what we’re seeing because this is a very unusual situation,” McQuiston told CNN on Thursday. “We don’t see that in the US or Europe – and the number of cases that are being reported is definitely out of the normal range,” McQuiston said.
A top UK health official told the BBC on Sunday that people should be aware of monkeypox – but that the risk to the general population “remains extremely low at this time”.
“I think people need to be aware of this,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA). “We really want doctors to be on the lookout and send tests if they’re worried.”
Hopkins said, based on reports from Africa, that the UKHSA knows that certain people are “much more at risk of serious illness, particularly immunosuppressed individuals or young children”.
While there is “no direct vaccine for monkeypox,” Hopkins said, “we are using a third-generation form of smallpox vaccine that is safe in individuals who have contacts with cases.”