Monkeypox outbreak: WHO working on sexual contact theory, top adviser says

A senior adviser for the World Health Organization said the monkeypox outbreak appears to be spread through sexual contact and warned that the number of cases could rise in the summer months as people attend large gatherings and summer festivals.

David Heymann, chair of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential, led a meeting of the group on Friday “due to the urgency of the situation”.

Heymann told Reuters the WHO was working on the theory that the cases identified so far were motivated by sexual contact.

“What seems to be happening now is that it has entered the population in a sexual form, in a genital form, and is spreading, just like sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world” , Heymann said.

Heymann, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said experts were likely to give more advice to countries in the coming days. Health officials in several countries have warned that cases could rise further over the summer.

Heymann said the monkeypox outbreak was not like the early days of Covid because it is not transmitted as easily. “There are vaccines available, but the most important message is: you can protect yourself,” he said.

The warning comes as one New York A city resident has tested positive for the virus that causes monkeypox, health officials said, with the federal Centers for Disease Control investigating whether the rare disease is actually present.

Authorities are treating the case as positive and have placed the patient – whose identity has not been released – in solitary confinement pending final confirmation of the test result from the CDC.

The notification came a day after authorities in New York announced they were investigating two potential cases. One of those potential cases in the city has been ruled out, the state health department said.

City epidemiologists have begun contacting people who may have been exposed to the person infected with orthopoxvirus, the family of viruses that includes monkeypox. State and city officials said they will try to determine how the New York patient became infected.

The virus originates from wild animals, including rodents and primates, but can sometimes be transmitted to humans – with most of these cases located in central and western Africa. The first known human infection dates back to 1970, when a nine-year-old boy in a remote region of DR Congo was diagnosed with the virus, which can cause fever, body aches, chills and fatigue.

People with severe cases may also develop rashes and pus-filled lesions on the face, palms, and other parts of the body.

The virus does not spread easily between people, although officials have said transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox wounds, objects that have been contaminated with fluids or wounds such as clothing and bedding, or by respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face contact. face contacts.

The apparent infection in New York comes as the WHO has identified around 80 cases worldwide, along with around 50 other suspected cases. The WHO has warned that more cases are likely to emerge.

Infections have been confirmed in nine European countries, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Massachusetts health officials confirmed its first case of the disease on Wednesday. State officials said the patient had recently traveled to Canada.

“The current patient poses no public health risk at this time,” Dr. Paul Biddinger, director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Thursday. “People should just be aware of the symptoms, but not be scared in any way.”

monkeypox case periodically show in the USA. Last year, Texas and Maryland each reported a case in people who had recently traveled to Nigeria. In 2003, there was an outbreak in six states that infected 47 people.

“Monkeypox is not a monkey virus”, D. Matt Aliota, head of the University of Minnesota Zoonotic Viral Infections ProgramTold Minnesota Kare11 Last week. “It was originally isolated from a monkey, but monkeys are not the natural host.

“It’s a virus that naturally infects small rodents and can then spread to humans through scratching or hunting and meat processing.”

In recent days, clinicians have been advised to treat patients with associated symptoms as a “possible diagnosis” and to consult their public health department or the CDC’s emergency operations center “as soon as monkeypox is suspected”.

The review also gives infection control information to health care providers.

Health officials also made a point of noting that monkeypox is harder to transmit – and therefore easier to contain – than the coronavirus.

People exposed to monkeypox, which has a slow incubation period, can receive smallpox vaccines already in circulation to reduce the severity of illness, according to the CDC.

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