Health Authorities Warns That Monkeypox Could Be Spreading Silently. Global Cases Now 700 With Thousands Under Investigations In 32 Countries
is not just mutating fast as it spreads from individuals to individuals which is an anomalous phenomenon by itself as DNA viruses are not known to mutate fast, but the disease is now spreading rapidly in a variety of modes, not just by physical and sexual contact but also via airborne transmission. The fact that monkeypox
can remain infectious in the air for up to 90 hours is worrisome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3556235/
Health authorities are now worried that monkeypox
could be spreading silently within communities without people even being aware of it.
The long incubation periods of monkeypox spanning from 7 to 21 days also adds to complications along with the fact that many doctors also have problems diagnosing the disease without proper diagnostics in certain countries as some symptoms may closely resemble herpes or varicella infections.
Also the recent association of the new outbreak of monkeypox with certain sub-segments of the gay community ie those into group and public sex fetish, have brought a certain negative stigma and many who suspect that they have contracted the disease are reluctant to come forward and seek medical help especially certain ‘closet’ gays in Muslim countries like UAE, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia etc.
In UAE four cases have been confirmed and in Iran 3 cases with hundreds more under investigations and health officials believes that many cases are going undetected and could help further spread the disease.
As of the last one hour, confirmed monkeypox cases have reached 700 cases spanning 32 countries. Thousands more are under investigations.
The United Kingdom leads with 197 confirmed cases followed by Spain with 142 cases, Portugal with 119 cases, Canada 61 cases and Germany with 48 cases. EU health authorities are investigating whether Belgium could have hundreds of hidden cases due to a certain leather and dominance gay festival recently held there that had hundreds of gays indulging in unprotected group sex.
In the United States, there are now 19 confirmed cases of monkeypox with another 127 individuals under investigations.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general told media yesterday that the sudden appearance of monkeypox in multiple countries across the world indicates the virus has been spreading undetected for some time outside the West and Central African nations where it is usually found.
Dr Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s monkeypox technical lead said that the virus may have been transmitted for months or years undetected though investigations are ongoing and there are clear no answers yet.
Dr Lewis said during a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday, “We don’t really know whether it’s too late to contain. What WHO and all member states are trying to do is prevent onward spread. Contact tracing and isolating patients who have monkeypox are crucial to stopping the spread.”
The WHO director-general, Tedros said most of the cases have been reported by men who sought care at sexual health clinics after they’ve had sex with other men and developed symptoms. He emphasized that anyone can catch monkeypox through close physical contact, warned against stigmatizing people and called on countries to increase surveillance to identify cases in the broader population.
He also warned that the disease is now spreading to the general population via airborne transmissions and that more preventive measures should be adopted.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead added during the press conference, “Monkeypox symptoms generally resolve on their own though the disease can be severe in some cases. No deaths have been reported from the current outbreaks in North America and Europe. However, monkeypox has also not spread yet among more vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children in these regions.”
Dr Lewis said that the WHO has been monitoring monkeypox in Africa for five decades. Interestingly more than 70 deaths from monkeypox have been reported across five African countries in 2022, she said. Monkeypox cases have been increasing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent years which may be because vaccination against smallpox was halted in 1980. Monkeypox is in the same virus family as smallpox though it is milder.
Dr Lewis said, “Collective immunity in the human population since that time is not what it was at the time of smallpox eradication. Anyone under the age of 40 or 50 depending on which country you were born in or where you might have received your vaccine against smallpox would not now have that protection from that particular vaccine.”
It was reported that the WHO and member countries have maintained smallpox vaccine reserves, though they are mostly first-generation shots that do not meet current standards. There are also newer-generation vaccines and treatments for smallpox but the supply is limited.
Dr Lewis said that the WHO is working with companies to increase access to those new vaccines and treatments.
Dr Lewis added, “The WHO is not recommending mass vaccination. There is no need for mass vaccination. Right now the virus is mostly spreading in a specific community, men who have sex with men, and it’s important to provide individuals in that community with the information they need to protect themselves and prevent the virus from spreading.”
It should be noted that monkeypox usually begins with symptoms similar to the flu, including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes. Infectious lesions then form on the body. Monkeypox is primarily spread through sustained skin-to-skin contact with these lesions. A person is considered no longer contagious once the lesions have disappeared and a new layer of skin has formed.
Interestingly, there is not much data about the long-term health effects from monkeypox infections and also as to whether dormant reservoirs of the virus can remain in the human host. Research teams are only now staring to look into these issues despite the disease being around for such a long time.
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