Currently, over 80 cases of Monkeypox have been documented in over 11 countries, per the World Health Organization.
And there may be an additional 50 cases on the way that are pending confirmation.
“WHO is working closely with the countries concerned to investigate these cases further, determine the likely source of infection, how the virus is spreading, and how to limit further transmission,” said the organization’s Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge in a statement. “Anyone who is concerned about an unusual rash should consult their doctor or healthcare provider.”
“Monkeypox does not normally spread easily between humans, and requires close contact, with the virus entering the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, eyes, nose and mouth, and via bodily fluids,” Kluge mentioned. “The main way it can spread is through close physical contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has monkeypox.”
The origins of monkeypox come from a virus in the Orthopoxvirus genus and is somewhat similar to smallpox although much less severe. The illness is most commonly reported in Central and West Africa among tropical rainforest regions.
In fact, there are some nations where the illness is considered to be an endemic.
Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States are the newest countries to be affected by the virus.
The symptoms of the virus include rash, fever, headache, back pain, and swollen lymph nodes, which last between 2-4 weeks. The rash can typically show up about 1-3 days after the fever and will typically be concentrated on the individual’s face and limbs. Somewhere between 3-6% of cases are fatal, according to WHO data.
WHO has reported that there is an antiviral agent previously developed to treat smallpox that has been licensed for treatment of monkeypox.
In the U.S., the first case was reported in Massachusetts with little details revealed about the patient, who was being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“They were being evaluated for various symptoms. During the course of their admission, they were identified as a possible monkeypox suspect,” Dr. Erica Shenoy said in a statement to WCVB.
Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge has expressed concerns of the virus increasing in number during the upcoming summer months.
“As we enter the summer season in the European Region, with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate, as the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity, and the symptoms are unfamiliar to many,” the regional director said. “Hand and respiratory hygiene, along with personal protective equipment and adequate isolation of suspected and confirmed cases are also critical to reduce transmission in healthcare settings — the measures we have all been following for COVID-19.”
He made a statement urging the public that those who contracted the virus not be “stigmatized or discriminated.”
The WHO’s statement affirmed this sentiment.
“Stigmatizing groups of people because of a disease is never acceptable. It can be a barrier to ending an outbreak as it may prevent people from seeking care, and lead to undetected spread,” the organization stated.