An outbreak of the monkeypox virus in North America and Europe is spread mainly through sex among men, with about 200 confirmed and suspected cases in at least a dozen countries, the World Health Organization said Monday.
Over the past week, the outbreak has spread rapidly across Europe and North America and is expected to be much more prevalent as more doctors look for signs and symptoms. Two confirmed and one suspected cases of monkeypox in the UK were reported to the WHO just 10 days ago, the first this year outside Africa where the virus has typically circulated at a low level in the last 40 years, the organization said.
“We’ve seen several cases in Europe in the last five years, only in travelers, but this is the first time we’ve seen cases in many countries at the same time in people who haven’t traveled to endemic regions of Africa,” said Dr Rosamund Lewis, who led the study. WHO on smallpox, live on channels on social networks of the organization.
According to the German military, European countries have confirmed dozens of cases of the largest monkey outbreak on the continent. The U.S. has confirmed at least two cases, and Canada has confirmed at least five. Belgium has just introduced a mandatory 21-day quarantine for monkeypox patients.
The WHO convened an emergency meeting this weekend via video conference to look at the virus, identify the most at risk and study its transmission. Next week, the organization will hold a second global meeting on monkeypox to take a closer look at the risks and treatments available to fight the virus.
While the virus itself is not a sexually transmitted infection that is commonly spread through semen and vaginal fluids, the latest outbreak appears to have been among men who have sex with other men, WHO officials said. emphasizing that anyone can get infected. smallpox monkeys.
“Many diseases can be transmitted through sexual contact. You can get a cough or a cold from sexual contact, but that doesn’t mean it’s a sexually transmitted disease, ”said Andy Seal, who advises the WHO on HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases. transferred infections.
The virus is spread by close contact with people, animals or materials infected with the virus. It enters the body through damaged skin, airways, eyes, nose and mouth. Although human-to-human transmission is also thought to occur through respiratory drops, this method requires prolonged face-to-face contact because the drops cannot pass more than a few feet, the CDC reports.
“It’s a very stable virus outside of the human host, so it can live on items like blankets and things like that,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC in a separate interview Monday. “And so you can see situations where people are reluctant to try on clothes, things like that, when it can be devastating in areas where it’s prevalent, like New York.”
He said he expects more confirmed cases in the U.S. in the coming weeks as doctors and health officials overestimate patients who have symptoms and the virus continues to spread.
Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus from the same family as smallpox, but not as severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, according to observations in Africa, according to the CDC, monkeypox can kill up to 1 in 10 people infected with the disease.
WHO officials said the vaccine used to prevent smallpox is about 85% effective in protecting monkeys from smallpox in observational studies in Africa. But vaccines are not widely available, so it is important to reserve them for the populations most at risk, said Maria Van Kerchowe, the WHO’s leading epidemiologist on zoonotic diseases. She said the WHO would team up with vaccine manufacturers to see if they could increase production.
Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, back pain, muscle aches and low energy levels, WHO officials said. It then progresses to a rash on the face, arms, feet, eyes, mouth or genitals, which turns into raised bumps or papules that then become blisters that often resemble chickenpox. They can then fill with white liquid, turning into a pustule that breaks and becomes covered with scabs.
Gottlieb described it as a disability that can last two to four months and has a long 21-day incubation period.
“I don’t think it will spread uncontrollably in the same way we endured the Covid-19 epidemic,” Gottlieb said. “But there’s a chance it’s getting into the community now, when in fact it’s more widespread than what we’re measuring now, and it’s getting hard to rule out.”
– CNBC Spencer Kimball and Karen Gilchrist contributed to this article.
Disclosure: Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a member of CNBC and is a board member of Pfizer, the startup for genetic testing Tempus, the Aetion health technology company and the biotechnology company. Illumina. He also serves as co-chair Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ And Royal Caribbean‘s Healthy Sail Panel.