Smallpox has spread undetected as global cases rise to more than 550, says WHO

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the sudden appearance of monkeypox in several countries around the world indicates that the virus has spread undetected for a long time outside the nations of the world. ‘West and Central Africa where it is commonly found.

The virus may have been transmitted for months or years undetected, although investigations are ongoing and there are still no clear answers, according to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s technical director of smallpox.

“We really don’t know if it’s too late to contain it. What the WHO and all the member states are trying to do is prevent the spread,” Lewis told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday. Monitoring contacts and isolating patients who have monkeypox are crucial to stopping the spread, he said.

Tedros said most cases have been reported by men who sought care at sexual health clinics after having sex with other men and developed symptoms. He stressed that anyone can spread monkeypox through close physical contact, warned not to stigmatize people, and called on countries to step up surveillance to identify cases in the wider population.

Symptoms of monkeypox usually resolve on their own, Tedros said, although the disease can be severe in some cases. No deaths have been reported in current outbreaks in North America and Europe. However, monkeypox has not yet spread to the most vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and children in these regions, said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical director of Covid-19.

Monkeypox usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. Infectious lesions form on the body.

Smallpox from the monkey is transmitted mainly through sustained skin-to-skin contact with these lesions. A person is no longer considered to be contagious once the lesions have disappeared and a new layer of skin has formed. WHO / CNBC

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