The WHO Emergency Committee will meet next Thursday to determine ways to contain the outbreak of monkeypox, which has passed the 10,000 case mark in some 60 countries, announced Thursday the health agency.
The Committee will have to decide in particular on the seriousness of the resurgence of cases of monkeypox, and on its qualification as a “public health emergency of international concern,” the organization’s highest level of alert.
It will meet for the second time, having ruled out the increase in the alert level at its previous meeting on June 23.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has since risen sharply : the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), author of the most recent data on the subject, now lists 11,068 confirmed cases in 65 countries.
Europe remains by far the epicenter of the current wave, with 8,238 cases in 35 countries, according to figures from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), dated July 12.
The bar of 500 cases has been crossed in five European countries: in Spain, the most affected country on the Old Continent with 2,034 confirmed cases, followed by the United Kingdom (1,735), Germany (1,636), France (721) and the Netherlands (503).
The head of the UN health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has repeatedly expressed his concern about the current spread of the disease, usually confined to certain African countries, and urged member countries to take the adequate measures to limit contamination.
“I emphasize once again that we must work to stop transmission and advise governments to set up contact tracing to monitor and contain the virus and provide assistance to people in isolation,” explained Dr. Tedros on Tuesday at a press conference in Geneva.
A distant cousin of human smallpox, but considered much less dangerous, monkeypox usually heals on its own within two to three weeks.
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Its spread outside the ten African countries where the virus is endemic has nevertheless been accompanied by a change in the most common symptoms.
According to the first study on the subject, published at the beginning of July in the Lancet Infectious Diseases and relating to British patients, the bouts of fever are less frequent and shorter than for the cases recorded in Africa, while the skin lesions are concentrated on the genitals.
Rashes can also appear in the mouth, indicates Public Health France, which reports cases presenting with sore throats and body aches as well as pain in the lymph nodes, which can swell in the neck or groin.
While the overwhelming majority of European and American cases concern men who have had sex with men, they are not the only ones concerned , with some cases having also been detected in children and immunocompromised people.
The human smallpox vaccine, of which some countries – notably the United States – have retained doses after its eradication in 1980, could be reused against monkey pox, but the WHO recommends vaccinating only health professionals for the moment.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128