And African health authorities said they are treating the growing monkeypox outbreak as an emergency and calling on wealthy countries to share limited supplies of vaccines to avoid equity problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hans Kluge, head of WHO Europe, said in a statement that more efforts were needed, despite the United Nations health organization’s decision last week that the escalating outbreak did not justify making it a global health emergency. public health should be declared.
“Urgent and concerted action is necessary if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” Kluge said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported to date from 51 countries around the world that normally do not report the disease.
Kluge said the number of infections in Europe represents about 90 percent of the global total, with 31 countries in the WHO’s European region having identified cases.
Kluge said data reported to the WHO shows that 99 percent of the cases were in men — the majority in men who have sex with men.
But he said there were now “small numbers” of cases among household contacts, including children.
Most people reported symptoms such as rash, fever, fatigue, muscle aches, vomiting, and chills.
Scientists warn that anyone who comes in close physical contact with someone who has monkey pox or their clothing or bedding is at risk of infection.
Vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women are at greater risk of serious illness.
About 10 percent of patients were hospitalized for treatment or in isolation, and one person was admitted to an intensive care unit. No deaths have been reported.
Kluge said the problem of stigma in some countries could make some people wary of seeking health care and said WHO was working with partners, including organizers of gay pride events.
In the UK, which has the largest monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa, officials have noted the disease spreads in “defined sexual networks of homosexuals, bisexuals or men who have sex with men.”
UK health authorities said there were no signs of continued transmission outside those populations.
A leading WHO adviser said in May that the spike in cases in Europe was likely linked to sexual activity by men at two rave parties in Spain and Belgium.
Ahead of gay pride events in the UK this weekend, London’s top public health doctor asked people with monkey pox symptoms, such as swollen glands or blisters, to stay at home.
Nevertheless, the WHO says that according to detailed data from Ghana, monkey pox cases were almost equally distributed between men and women, and no spread was found among men who have sex with men.
WHO Europe director Kluge also said the procurement of vaccines “must apply the principles of justice”.
The main vaccine used against monkeypox was originally developed for smallpox and the European Medicines Agency said this week it was beginning to evaluate whether it should be approved for monkeypox.
The WHO has said that the supply of the vaccine, made by Bavarian Nordic, is extremely limited.
Countries, including the UK and Germany, have already started vaccinating people at high risk for monkey pox; the UK has recently expanded its vaccination program to mainly gay and bisexual men who have multiple sexual partners and are believed to be the most vulnerable.
Until May, monkeypox was never known to cause major outbreaks outside parts of central and western Africa, where it has sickened people for decades, is endemic to several countries and usually causes limited outbreaks when it jumps from infected wildlife to humans.
To date, there have been about 1,800 suspected cases of monkey pox in Africa, including more than 70 deaths, but only 109 have been confirmed in the lab.
The lack of laboratory diagnosis and weak supervision means that many cases go undetected.
“This particular outbreak represents an emergency for us,” said Ahmed Ogwell, the acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control.
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The WHO says monkeypox has spread to African countries where it has not been seen before, including South Africa, Ghana and Morocco.
But according to WHO Africa director, Dr. Moeti Matshidiso, more than 90 percent of infections on the continent occur in Congo and Nigeria.
Vaccines have never been used to stop monkeypox outbreaks in Africa; Officials have relied mainly on contact tracing and isolation.
The WHO noted that, similar to last year’s battle for COVID-19 vaccines, countries providing monkeypox vaccines are not yet sharing them with Africa.
“We have no donations that have been offered to (poorer) countries,” said Fiona Braka, head of the WHO emergency response team in Africa.
“We know that those countries that have some reserves reserve them mainly for their own populations.”
Matshidiso said the WHO is in talks with manufacturers and countries with stocks to see if they can be shared.
“We would like to see the global spotlight on monkeypox act as a catalyst to defeat this disease once and for all in Africa,” she said on Thursday.