WHO warns of ‘real’ risk as monkeypox cases hit 1,000 mark

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday that there is a “real” risk of monkeypox “establishing itself” in countries where it is not endemic. The agency’s warning came as more than a thousand cases have now been confirmed in those countries.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO does not recommend mass vaccinations against the virus. He said no deaths have been reported so far.

“The risk of monkeypox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real,” Tedros told a news conference.

The zoonotic disease is endemic in humans in nine African countries, but outbreaks have been reported in the past month in several other states, mainly in Europe, including Britain, Spain and Portugal.

Watch | Monkeypox outbreak: ‘Likelihood of further virus spread’, says WHO

“More than 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have now been reported to WHO from 29 countries that are not endemic for the disease,” Tedros said.

“So far, no deaths have been reported in these countries. Cases have been reported primarily, but not exclusively, in men who have sex with men.

“Some countries are now starting to report cases of apparent community transmission, including some cases in women.”

On Wednesday, Greece reported the first case of the disease. Local health authorities said the patient, a man, had recently traveled to Portugal. He was reportedly in stable condition in a hospital.

Early symptoms of monkey pox include high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a chickenpox-like rash.

WHO chief Dr Tedros said he was particularly concerned about the risk the virus posed to pregnant women and children. He said the emergence of monkeypox in countries where it was not endemic could be due to undetected transmission for some time.

A case of monkeypox in a non-endemic country is considered an epidemic.

(With agency contributions)

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