The outbreak of smallpox in monkeys deserved a warning from the World Health Organization at a press conference this Wednesday. “The risk that monkeypox will become entrenched in non-endemic countries is real. The WHO is particularly concerned about the risk of this virus to vulnerable groups, ”explained WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebrejesus. “But this scenario can be avoided. The WHO calls on the affected countries to make every effort to identify all cases and contacts in order to control this epidemic and prevent the spread of monkeypox. “
There is still no explanation for the emergence of this new epidemic. “The sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox in several non-endemic countries suggests that the transmission may have gone undetected for some time. How long, we don’t know. “More than a thousand cases have been confirmed in 29 countries that are not endemic for the disease. No deaths have been reported in these countries so far.”
“Obviously, it is worrying that monkeypox is spreading in countries where they have not been seen before. At the same time, we must keep in mind that so far this year there have been more than 1,400 suspected cases of smallpox in Africa and 66 deaths. ”
Despite the near-zero mortality rate, the WHO is calling for caution and care. “There are effective ways for people to protect themselves and others – people with symptoms should be isolated at home and consult a health worker. “Anyone who shares a house with an infected person should avoid close contact,” he said. “There are approved antiviral vaccines for monkeypox, but there is a limit to the offer. The WHO is developing a coordinated mechanism for the distribution of vaccines based on health care needs and in a fair way. ”
“Post-exposure vaccination, ideally within four days of exposure, may be considered by some countries for close contacts at higher risk, such as sexual partners, family members in the same household and health workers,” the WHO recommends.
“Most, but not only, cases have been reported among men who have sex with men. Some countries are starting to report cases of apparent community-based transmission, including some cases of women. ”
“Last week, the WHO organized consultations with more than 500 researchers to review what we know and don’t know and identify research priorities,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who criticized global inactivity.
“This virus has been circulating and killing Africa for decades. It is a sad reflection of the world we live in that the international community is only now beginning to pay attention because monkeypox has emerged in high-income countries. ” “To support countries, the WHO has issued guidelines on monkey control and contact monitoring; laboratory and diagnostic tests. In the coming days, we will issue guidelines on clinical care, infection prevention and control, vaccination; and more community protection guidelines. ”
The outbreak of monkeypox came at a time when we are still experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, the WHO warned. “The perception that the Covid-19 pandemic is over is understandable, but wrong. More than 7,000 people lost their lives to the virus last week. A new and even more dangerous variant could appear at any moment, and a large number of people remain unprotected. ” “Globally, the number of reported cases and deaths from Covid-19 continues to decline. This is obviously a very encouraging trend – increasing vaccination rates are saving lives – but the WHO is still calling for caution. There are not enough tests and there are not enough vaccinations “, he revealed.
At the press conference, there was still time to deal with the mysterious hepatitis that affects children around the world. “The WHO receives reports of this unexplained hepatitis in children every year, but some countries have stated that they have recorded rates higher than expected,” he admitted. “The WHO continues to monitor reports of hepatitis of unknown cause in children. More than 700 probable cases have been reported in 34 countries. Another 112 cases are under investigation. At least 38 cases required liver transplants, and 10 died. The WHO continues to work with countries to investigate the causes of these children. So far, five viruses that usually cause hepatitis have not been detected in any of these cases. “