As of May 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) has received reports of 92 laboratory-confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases from 12 countries not endemic for the disease.
Some cases have been identified at sexual health clinics and investigations are ongoing.
The disease can affect anyone
According to the WHO, the available evidence suggests that those most at risk are those who have had close physical contact with someone with monkeypox, and that the risk is not limited to men who have sex with men.
UNAIDS urged media, governments and communities to respond with a rights-based and evidence-based approach that avoids stigma.
“Stigma and blame undermine trust and the ability to respond effectively during epidemics like this,” said Matthew Kavanagh, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Experience shows that stigmatizing rhetoric can quickly disable an evidence-based response by fueling cycles of fear, driving people away from health services, hampering case identification efforts and encouraging ineffective punitive measures. “.
Mr. Kavanagh stressed that the agency appreciates the LGBTI community for leading the way in raising awareness of Monkeypox and reiterated that the disease can affect anyone.
“This outbreak highlights the urgent need for leaders to strengthen pandemic prevention, including building community-led capacity and human rights infrastructure to support effective, non-stigmatizing responses to outbreaks.” , he noted.
The agency has urged all media covering Monkeypox to follow updates from the WHO.
More cases expected
The UN health agency said over the weekend that as the situation evolves and surveillance expands, it is expected that more cases of Monkeypox will be identified.
To date, all cases whose samples have been confirmed by PCR were identified as being infected with the West African clade.
The genome sequence of a swab sample from a confirmed case in Portugal indicated a close match between the Monkeypox virus causing the current outbreak and cases exported from Nigeria to the UK, Israel and Singapore in 2018 and 2019.
The WHO said the identification of confirmed and suspected cases of Monkeypox not directly linked to an endemic area represents a “highly unusual event”.
About the disease
Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although clinically less severe.
There are two clades of Monkeypox virus: the West African clade and the Congo Basin (Central Africa) clade.
The name Monkeypox comes from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970.
The monkeypox virus is spread from person to person through close contact with wounds, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials like bedding. Monkeypox’s incubation period is usually 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.