WHO calls for ‘urgent’ action to stem monkeypox spread in Europe as cases surge
The World Health Organization on Friday called for “urgent” action to prevent the spread of monkeypox in Europe, noting that cases in the region had tripled in the past two weeks.
“Today I am reinforcing my call on governments and civil society to scale up their efforts…to prevent monkeypox from settling in a growing geographic area,” said Hans Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
“Urgent and concerted action is necessary if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease.”
Since early May, an increase in monkey pox cases has been detected outside of West and Central African countries where the viral disease is endemic.
Ninety percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases recorded worldwide — or 4,500 infections — are in Europe, Kluge said.
So far, 31 countries and territories have reported infections.
Kluge said Europe remains at the center of the growing outbreak and the risk remains high.
The WHO does not think the outbreak currently constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, but will review its position soon, it said.
What can authorities do?
scale up #monkeypox surveillance – ensuring rapid diagnosis and response
🔵Engage communities – use large-scale events to spread public health messages
🔵strong political commitment, transparency and investment in public health
— WHO/Europe (@WHO_Europe) July 1, 2022
According to the WHO, most monkeypox infections to date have been observed in men who have sex with men, at a young age and especially in urban areas.
It investigates cases of possible sexual transmission, but states that the disease is mainly spread through close contact.
Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which kills millions of people around the world every year before it was eradicated in 1980, but has much less severe symptoms.
The disease begins with a fever and quickly progresses to a rash, with crusting. It is usually mild and usually resolves spontaneously after two to three weeks.
Britain has the highest number of reported cases to date – 1,076 according to UK authorities – ahead of Germany (838), Spain (736), Portugal (365) and France (350), according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and check.
London’s chief public health doctor Kevin Fenton on Thursday called on anyone with symptoms not to participate in the Pride march in the British capital over the weekend.
On Friday, Danish lab Bavarian Nordic, the only lab producing an approved monkey pox vaccine, announced a new shipment of 2.5 million doses to the United States.
U.S. health authorities said Tuesday they were immediately releasing 56,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine — five times the number distributed to date — in high-transmission areas as part of a major escalation in the country’s immunization strategy.
The European Medicines Agency announced on Tuesday that it has begun reviewing a smallpox vaccine to expand its use against monkeypox.