WHO calls emergency meeting as monkeypox cases top 100 in Europe By Reuters

© Reuters. A section of skin tissue, collected from a skin lesion of a monkey, which had been infected with the monkeypox virus, is seen to increase by 50X on the fourth day of the development of the rash. in 1968. CDC / Brochure via REUTERS

By Jennifer Rigby and Natalie Grover

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the recent outbreak of smallpox, the most common viral infection in West and Central Africa, after more confirmed or suspected of 100 cases to Europe.

In what Germany described as the largest outbreak in Europe, cases have been reported in at least nine countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. United States, Canada and Australia.

Spain reported 24 new cases on Friday, mainly in the Madrid region, where the regional government closed a sauna linked to most infections.

An Israeli hospital was treating a 30-year-old man with symptoms compatible with the disease after his recent arrival from Western Europe.

First identified in monkeys, the disease usually spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of cases has caused concern.

However, scientists do not expect the outbreak to evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19, as the virus does not spread as easily as SARS-VOC-2.

Smallpox is usually a mild viral disease, characterized by symptoms of fever, as well as a characteristic rash.

“This is the largest and most widespread outbreak of smallpox in Europe,” said the German Armed Forces Medical Service, which on Friday detected its first case in the country.

The meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) committee to discuss the issue is the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Pandemic and Epidemic Potential Infectious Risks (STAG-IH), which advises on the risks of infection that they could pose a threat to global health.

It would not be responsible for deciding whether the outbreak should be declared a public health emergency of international interest, the highest form of WHO alert currently being applied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There seems to be a low risk to the general public right now,” said a senior US official.


Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute described the outbreak as an epidemic.

“However, this epidemic is very unlikely to last long. Cases can be well isolated by contact tracking and there are also effective drugs and vaccines that can be used if needed,” he said.

However, the European head of WHO said he was concerned that infections could accelerate in the region as people gather for parties and festivals during the summer months.

There is no specific vaccine for smallpox, but data show that vaccines used to eradicate smallpox are up to 85% effective against smallpox, according to the WHO.

British authorities say they have offered a smallpox vaccine to some health workers and others who may have been exposed to the smallpox.

Cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries since 1970. Nigeria has had a major outbreak since 2017. So far this year, there have been 46 suspected cases, 15 of which have been confirmed since then, according to the WHO.

On May 7, the first European case was confirmed in an individual who returned to England from Nigeria.

Since then, more than 100 cases have been confirmed outside of Africa, according to a tracker https://twitter.com/MOUGK/status/1527055553876348928 by an Oxford University academic.

Many of the cases are not related to trips to the mainland. As a result, the cause of this outbreak is unclear, although health authorities have said there is potentially some degree of community spread.


The WHO said the first cases were unusual for three reasons: all but one have no history of relevant travel to areas where monkeypox is endemic; most are being detected through sexual health services and between men who have sex with men, and the wide geographical spread across Europe and beyond suggests that transmission may have been around for a while.

In Britain, where 20 cases have now been confirmed, the UK Health Safety Agency said recent cases in the country were predominantly between men who identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men. .

Portugal detected nine more cases on Friday, bringing the total to 23.

The previous count of 14 cases were all detected in sexual health clinics and were men between the ages of 20 and 40 who were identified as gay, bisexual, or men who had sex with men.

It was too early to say whether the disease has turned into a sexually transmitted disease, said Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for the Lazio region of Italy. So far, three cases have been reported in the country.

“The idea that there is some kind of sexual transmission in this, I think, is a bit exaggerated,” said Stuart Neil, a professor of virology at Kings College London.

Scientists are sequencing the virus from different cases to see if they are related, the WHO said. The agency is expected to provide an update soon.

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