World Health Organization | No monkeypox pandemic, but questions remain

(London) A leading expert at the World Health Organization predicted on Monday that there would be no monkeypox epidemic, but many questions remain unanswered, including exactly how the disease spreads and whether vaccines developed against smallpox decades ago could speed its transmission. unintentionally.

Posted at 10:59

Maria Cheng
News agency

At a public hearing on Monday, Dr. Rosamund Lewis said it was essential to remember that the vast majority of cases detected in dozens of countries were of gay or bisexual men, so that scientists can study the issue more comprehensively and in-vulnerable populations can take precautions. .

“It is very important to describe it because it appears to be an increase in the mode of transmission that may not have been recognized in the past,” Dr. Lewis said.

Despite everything, she warned that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, could be at risk of disease. Other experts noted that the disease may have been discovered in gay and bisexual men for the first time by accident, and could spread to other groups if left unchecked. So far, says the World Health Organization, more than 250 cases have been identified in 23 countries where monkeypox has never been detected before.

Dr. Lewis admitted that it was not known whether monkeypox was transmitted during sexual activity or through close contact during sexual activity. He asserts that the risk to the general population is “low”.

“It is not yet known whether this virus exploits a new mode of transmission, but it is clear that it continues to exploit its known mode of transmission, which is close physical contact,” she said.

Monkeypox has been known to spread through close physical contact with an infected person, their clothing, or bedding.

She also warns that we are seeing, in the current cases, a higher proportion of people with fewer lesions that are more concentrated in the genital area, sometimes not visible.

“You may have these lesions for two or four weeks (and) they may not be visible to others, but you may still be contagious,” Dr. Lewis cautioned.

Last week, a WHO consultant said outbreaks in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere were likely linked to sexual activity at two extremes in Spain and Belgium.

Most monkeypox victims experience fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. In the most severe cases, ulcers develop on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body. No deaths are currently reported.

Dr Lewis said that while previous outbreaks of monkeypox in West and Central Africa were relatively contained, it was unclear whether asymptomatic victims might spread the disease or whether the disease could be airborne, such as measles or COVID- 19.

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, but its symptoms are milder. After smallpox was eradicated in 1980, countries halted mass vaccination programmes. Experts believe that this could contribute to the spread of monkeypox, because the population now has little immunity to similar diseases. Smallpox vaccines also protect against monkeypox.

Dr Lewis said it would be “unfortunate” if monkeypox were able to exploit the “immune vacuum” left by smallpox 40 years ago. She said monkeypox could still be prevented from spreading to new areas.

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