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WHO considers declaring monkey pox a global health emergency

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    6th Jul, 2022

Context

The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting recently over the worldwide spread of monkeypox.

About

Monkey Pox:

  • Monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar, but less severe, to smallpox.
  • While smallpox was eradicated in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in countries of Central and West Africa. 
  • Two distinct clade are identified: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade, also known as the Central African clade.
  • Monkeypox is a zoonosis,a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans.
  • Cases are often found close to tropical rainforests where there are animals that carry the virus.
  • Evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in animals including squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, different species of monkeys and others. 
  • Detection of viral DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the preferred laboratory test for monkeypox.
    • The best diagnostic specimens are directly from the rash – skin, fluid or crusts, or biopsy where feasible.
    • Antigen and antibody detection methods may not be useful as they do not distinguish between orthopoxviruses. 

  • Symptoms:Monkeypox presents with fever, an extensive characteristic rash and usually swollen lymph nodes.
  • It is important to distinguish monkeypox from other illnesses such as chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis and medication-associated allergies. 

Outbreaks:

  • Human monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire) in a 9-year-old boy in a region where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968.
  • Since then, most cases have been reported from rural, rainforest regions of the Congo Basin, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is considered to be endemic.

 

Key Points:

  • The WHO did not activate its highest alert level in response to the global monkeypox outbreak, called a public health emergency of international concern.
  • Currently, only Covid-19 and polio are considered global health emergencies.
  • There are at least 3,000 monkeypox cases across more than 50 countries.
  • The WHO said the current outbreak raises serious concerns and it is monitoring the situation closely.
  • WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described monkeypox as an evolving health threat, however, and urged governments around the world to step up surveillance, contact tracing, testing and to make sure that people at high risk have access to vaccines and antiviral treatments.
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