The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that outbreaks of endemic diseases such as monkeypox have become more frequent, and monkeypox is likely to have been spreading undetected for some time now.
More than 550 cases of the disease have been confirmed in more than 30 countries.
“Investigations are ongoing, but the sudden appearance of monkeypox in many countries at the same time suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for some time,” the head of the ministry told reporters. the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
As climate change contributes to rapidly changing weather patterns like drought, animals and humans are changing their behavior, including their foraging habits. Because of this “ecological fragility”, pathogens that typically circulate in animals are increasingly spreading to humans, he said.
“Unfortunately, this ability to amplify this disease and move it within our communities is increasing – so the disease emergence and amplifying factors have increased.”
His comment comes as monkeypox cases continue to rise outside Africa, where the pathogen is endemic.
But monkeypox, which is spread through close contact, is much less serious, with symptoms usually including high fever and a chickenpox-like rash that goes away after a few weeks.
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So far, most cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, although experts point out that there is no evidence that monkeypox is sexually transmitted.
“Anyone can get infected with monkeypox if they have close physical contact with someone else who is infected,” Tedros said.
He urged everyone to help “address stigma, which is not only bad, it could also prevent infected people from seeking treatment, making it harder to stop transmission.”
The WHO, he said, “also urges affected countries to expand their surveillance.” Vaccines developed against smallpox have also been shown to be around 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, but they are rare.
WHO does not suggest mass vaccination, but rather targeted use in certain settings to protect health workers and those most at risk of infection.
[ With inputs from agencies]
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