WHO calls for urgent European response to rise in monkeypox cases – 01/07/2022

Copenhagen, 1 Jul 2022 (AFP) – The World Health Organization (WHO) called on Friday (1) for the adoption of “urgent” measures to contain the spread of monkeypox in Europe, where cases have tripled in the last two weeks.

“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative” in the coming months to prevent the disease from spreading “in larger geographic areas”, warned WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Henri Kluge, in a statement.

According to the latest data from the UN agency, Europe accounts for around 4,500 cases of monkeypox, three times more than in mid-June.

This number corresponds to 90% of those registered worldwide since mid-May, when the disease, until then considered endemic in only about ten African countries, began to be reported in Europe.

So far, 31 European countries have reported cases.

Monkeypox, or simian orthopoxvirus, was identified in humans in 1970 and is considered less dangerous than smallpox, from the same family, which was eradicated in 1980.

On Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the monkeypox outbreak was a very concerning health threat, but that at the moment it did not represent a global public health emergency.

Despite this decision, “the rapid evolution and urgent nature of this event means that the (expert) committee will re-examine its position soon,” WHO Europe reported.

The United Kingdom has the highest number of cases so far (1,076 according to the British authorities), ahead of Germany (838), Spain (736), Portugal (365) and France (350), according to data from the European Center. for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The disease is transmitted by very close contact and 99% of current cases concern young men (20 to 40 years), according to the WHO.

The UN agency recommended that countries step up surveillance of the disease, including its sequencing, and build capacity to diagnose and respond to it.

WHO also encouraged countries to communicate with affected groups and the general public.

This Friday, the Danish laboratory Bavarian Nordic, the only one to manufacture a vaccine already approved specifically against monkeypox, announced a new delivery of 2.5 million doses to the United States.

This batch adds to a first order of 500,000 doses from the American authorities made a few weeks ago for this vaccine, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States, while in Europe it is called Imvanex.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and lack of energy.

Skin rashes then appear on the face, palms, and soles of the feet; lesions, pustules and, finally, crusts. The disease usually heals in about three weeks.

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