Monkeypox outbreak: WHO reveals how to contain viral disease

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According to a World Health Organization (WHO) official, the monkeypox outbreak, which has so far caused more than 16,000 infections in about 75 countries and five deaths, can be contained.

The infection was declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) by the WHO, the highest level of public health alert by the global health authority. “The reason the warning was given is that we want to make sure we can stop the outbreak as soon as possible,” said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, Monkeypox technical leader in a video posted on Twitter.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Lewis said “right strategies in the right groups” are key to containing the outbreak. She hoped that declaring the infectious disease PHEIC “will improve coordination, cooperation of countries and all stakeholders and global solidarity.”

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Lewis also pointed out the need to avoid stigmatization and discrimination, as doing so would impair the response to the disease.

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“Currently, the outbreak is still concentrated in groups of men who have sex with men in some countries, but that’s not the case everywhere,” she says. “It is also very important to realize that stigma and discrimination can be very damaging and as dangerous as any virus itself,” she said.

Lewis also stated that “mass vaccination is not necessary” at this point, but the WHO had recommended post-exposure vaccination. Meanwhile, the WHO is also working to establish a global coordination mechanism for monkeypox vaccines.

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Vaccine sharing should be done in accordance with public health needs, by country and by location. Not all regions had the same epidemiology, she explained. Lewis stressed that countries with production capacity for smallpox and monkeypox diagnostics, vaccines or therapies should increase production.

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Countries and manufacturers should work with WHO to ensure they are made available on the basis of public health needs, solidarity and at a reasonable cost to countries where they are most needed. Lewis explained that there are currently some 16.4 million vaccines available in bulk, but they needed to be completed. The countries currently producing vaccines are Denmark, Japan and the US.

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What is Monkeypox? What are the symptoms?

Monkeypox is contracted as a result of prolonged personal contact with an infected person (including sexual contact) or coming into contact with their infected belongings.

Symptoms usually include one or more of the following: rash, spots, sores, or blister-like lesions anywhere on the body, but often in the genital area; swollen and painful lymph nodes; and fever, headache and muscle aches, chills or exhaustion.