More cases of a rare disease have been reported around the world, including in the United States – where a health official has said he expects more cases in the coming days.
Confirmed cases have been identified in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“The situation is changing and WHO expects there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries,” the WHO press release reads.
Over the weekend, Belgium became the first country to introduce a mandatory quarantine period for patients infected with monkeypox.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, told ABC he wouldn’t be surprised if the United States sees “a few more” cases of monkeypox in the coming days.
“But I feel like it’s a virus that we understand, we have vaccines for it, we have treatments for it, and it spreads very differently from SARS-CoV-2” – the virus that causes Covid-19, Jha told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday.
“It’s not as contagious as COVID, so I’m confident we can keep our arms around it,” Jha said.
“But we will be monitoring this very closely and using the tools we have to ensure we can continue to prevent further spread and care for those infected.
“Health experts say close contact with an infected person is necessary to spread the monkeypox virus.”
The infection can develop after exposure to “broken skin, mucous membranes, respiratory droplets, infected bodily fluids, or even contact with contaminated laundry,” according to Neil Mabbott, personal chair of immunopathology at Edinburgh University Veterinary School in Scotland.
Although experts say monkeypox isn’t as contagious as COVID-19, President Joe Biden has said everyone should be worried about the spread of monkeypox – even as scientists work to learn more about it. the recent spread.
“They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should be worried about,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins as he left South Korea on Sunday.
“We’re working hard on it to figure out what we’re doing and what vaccine, if any, might be available for that,” Biden said.
“That’s a concern in that if it were to spread there would be consequences. That’s all they told me.”
CNN previously reported that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was evaluating whether a smallpox vaccine should be offered to health care workers treating patients with monkeypox and others who may be at “high risk” of exposure to monkeypox.
The variola virus which causes smallpox and the monkeypox virus are somewhat related, as they are both members of the genus Orthopoxvirus – belonging to the scientific family of “pox” viruses.
Therefore, some of the same vaccines given to prevent smallpox have also been shown to prevent monkeypox. The first symptoms of monkeypox are usually flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache, and muscle weakness.
One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from that of 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 the soles of the feet.
Sore, raised poxes are pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles.
The lesions eventually crust over and disappear over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.
Historically, cases of monkeypox have typically been reported in West or Central Africa, said Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of Pathogens and High Consequence Pathologies at the National Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and CDC Zoonotics.
“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 it in the United States or Europe – and the number of reported cases is definitely outside the normal level for what we would see,” McQuiston said.
A senior British health official told the BBC on Sunday that people should be aware of monkeypox – but the risk to the general population “remains extremely low at this time”.
“I think people need to be mindful of that,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency.
“We really want clinicians to pay attention and send the test if they are concerned.”
Hopkins said that based on reports from Africa, the UKHSA knows that some people are “much more at risk of serious illness, particularly immunocompromised people or young children”.
“While there is ‘no direct monkeypox vaccine,'” Hopkins said, “we are using a form of smallpox vaccine or third-generation smallpox vaccine that is safe for humans. people who are in contact with cases”.
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