Monkey pox: Europe ‘epicenter’ of disease outbreak, says WHO

With new cases on the rise, Europe has become the center of the spread of monkeypox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Intensified surveillance. Europe is at the center of the spread of monkeypox, the European office of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, which is concerned about the risk of the disease taking hold.

“Europe remains the epicenter of this growing wave, with 25 countries having reported more than 1,500 cases, or 85% of the global total,” WHO director Hans Kluge told a press conference. Europe, which brings together 53 countries including some from Central Asia.

For the UN institution, the priority is to contain the transmission.

“The scale of this epidemic presents a real risk: the longer the virus circulates, the more it will extend its reach and the more the disease will establish itself in non-endemic countries”, warned Hans Kluge.

Usually circulating in Central and West Africa, the virus is, outside of Europe, now present in Australia, the Middle East, North America and South America, totaling more than 1,600 cases.

Known in humans since 1970, monkey pox (“monkeypox” in English) or “simian orthopoxvirosis” is a disease considered rare, caused by a virus transmitted to humans by infected animals.

It first results in a high fever and quickly evolves into a rash, with the formation of scabs. Most often benign, it generally heals spontaneously after two to three weeks.

The circulation of the virus, which is transmitted in particular by prolonged contact, should not lead to the cancellation of the events welcoming the public planned for this summer.

“These events are great opportunities to raise awareness among young, sexually active and very mobile people,” said Hans Kluge, noting that they were “an opportunity to (…) stimulate our commitment”.

Noting that the majority of reported cases so far involve men who have sex with men, he cautioned against stigma, stressing that “monkeypox virus is not inherently attached to any group. specific”.

At this time, WHO does not recommend mass vaccination. European health authorities on Tuesday ordered more than 100,000 doses of a smallpox vaccine approved in the United States for monkeypox and considered effective against this virus.

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