Monkeypox outbreak not like Covid-19, can be controlled: WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday said that the monkeypox virus outbreak is not like Covid-19, however many uncertainties about the future remain. WHO, during a technical briefing, said that it does not have data on how many smallpox jabs are available and will seek data from countries.
The smallpox vaccines have been known to be effective against monkeypox, which has now been reported in over 20 countries with over 200 confirmed cases. The worrying part remains that cases have been reported in countries where monkeypox is not endemic and is the first time that such a transmission has been seen outside of West Africa.
WHO said that monkeypox is endemic in nine African countries, but the reservoir of the virus remains unknown. The global health body maintained that the risk of spread in community is difficult to assess.
"We think if we put the right measures in place now, we can contain it easily," Sylvie Briand, WHO director for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness said at a technical briefing to member states at the UN health agency's annual assembly.
WHO officials said that there was no need for mass vaccination at present, but targeted vaccination were available for close contacts of people infected.
Monkeypox is treatable, unlike the Covid-19 pandemic that remained a mystery for over a year after the outbreak, resulting in thousands of deaths worldwide. Experts have said that people with more serious illnesses of monkeypox may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body. However, most patients recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalised.
The virus transmits when a person comes in contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. According to the US Based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
WHO estimates there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about a dozen African countries every year.