Confirmed cases have been identified in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States – which counted between one and five confirmed cases of monkeypox on Saturday, the Who Said.
“The situation is evolving and WHO expects there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries,” the press release said.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, told ABC he wouldn’t be surprised if the United States sees “a few more” cases of monkeypox in the coming days.
“But I feel like it’s a virus that we understand, we have vaccines for it, we have treatments for it, and it spreads very differently from SARS-CoV-2” – the virus that causes Covid-19, Jha told ABC Raddatz’s Martha on Sunday.
“It’s not as contagious as Covid. So I’m confident we can keep our arms around it,” Jha said. “But we will be monitoring this very closely and using the tools we have to ensure we can continue to prevent further spread and care for those infected.”
Health experts say close contact with an infected person is necessary to spread the monkeypox virus.
The infection can develop after exposure to “broken skin, mucous membranes, respiratory droplets, infected bodily fluids, or even contact with contaminated laundry,” according to Neil Mabbott, personal chair of immunopathology at Edinburgh University Veterinary School in Scotland.
Although experts say monkeypox is not as contagious as Covid-19, President Joe Biden has said everyone should be worried about the spread of monkeypox – even as scientists work to learn more about the recent spread.
“They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should be worried about,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins as he left South Korea on Sunday.
“We’re working hard on it to figure out what we’re doing and what vaccine, if any, might be available for that,” Biden said. “That’s a concern in that if it were to spread there would be consequences. That’s all they told me.”
CNN previously reported that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was evaluating whether a smallpox vaccine should be offered to health care workers treating patients with monkeypox and others who may be at “high risk” of exposure to monkeypox.
The variola virus which causes smallpox and the monkeypox virus are somewhat related, as they are both members of the genus Orthopoxvirus – belonging to the scientific family of “pox” viruses. Therefore, some of the same vaccines given to prevent smallpox have also been shown to be effective in preventing monkeypox.
Early symptoms of monkeypox are usually flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache, and muscle weakness.
“One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from that of smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.
Sore, raised poxes are pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles. The lesions eventually crust over and disappear over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.
“We have a level of scientific concern about what we’re seeing because this is a very unusual situation,” McQuiston told CNN on Thursday.
“We don’t see it in the United States or Europe – and the number of reported cases is definitely outside the normal level for what we would see,” McQuiston said.
A senior British health official told the BBC on Sunday that people should be aware of monkeypox – but the risk to the general population “remains extremely low at this time”.
“I think people need to be mindful of that,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency.
“We really want clinicians to pay attention and send the test if they are concerned.”
Hopkins said that based on reports from Africa, the UKHSA knows that some people are “much more at risk of serious illness, particularly immunocompromised people or young children”.
Although there is “no direct vaccine for monkeypox,” Hopkins said, “we use a form of smallpox vaccine or third-generation smallpox vaccine that is safe for people. who are in contact with cases”.
CNN’s Sandee LaMotte, Jamie Gumbrecht, Keith Allen, Kevin Liptak, Jacqueline Howard and Martin Goillandeau contributed to this report.