Experts say the monkeypox outbreak could last for months before the window to stop its spread closes

LONDON, July 27 (Reuters) – Scientists advising the World Health Organization (WHO) on monkeypox say the window to stop its spread is closing, with cases now doubling every two weeks and months before the epidemic peaks. is causing concern. .

WHO Europe estimates just over 27,000 cases of monkeypox in 88 countries by August. 2, up to 17,800 cases in nearly 70 countries at last count. read more

Beyond that, it’s difficult to predict, scientists around the world told Reuters, but they said it could be contagious for months, perhaps longer.

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“We have to get ahead of it,” said Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Its clear window is closing,” added a member of the WHO’s expert committee on monkeypox, which met last week to determine whether the outbreak constitutes a global health emergency.

A majority of committee members voted against the move, and in an unprecedented move, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared a state of emergency anyway.

According to global health experts, actions stemming from this declaration, including vaccination, testing, isolation of the infected and contact tracing, must be carried out urgently.

“Contagion is clearly uncontrollable,” said Antoine Flahult, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Geneva, who heads the WHO’s European advisory group. Jimmy Whitworth, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he expected cases not to increase for at least the next four to six months, or until people at high risk of infection get vaccinated or become infected. Sexual health organizations recently estimated that there could be 125,000 people in the UK.

Monkeypox has been a global health problem in parts of Africa for decades, but in May the disease began to be reported outside countries where it is endemic.

It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and painful skin rashes that heal within a few weeks. The current outbreak has killed five people, all in Africa.

Outside of Africa, monkeypox is spreading mainly among men who have sex with men, prompting sexual health clinics to alert new cases. read more

Harun Tulunai, 35, said: “I clearly remember saying… ‘I think I’m going to die’ because I can’t eat, I can’t drink. I can’t even swallow my spit.” a sexual health advocate who was hospitalized with leprosy in London earlier this month but has since recovered.


Although monkeypox does not cause large numbers of deaths worldwide, the nasty virus emerging in new populations is still bad news, scientists say.

Flahault’s team modeled three scenarios for the coming months, all of which involve “sustained transmission” between men who have sex with men; these groups and perhaps to vulnerable populations such as children, or between humans and animals.

The latter scenario risks creating a monkey reservoir in animals in new countries, such as in parts of west and central Africa, Flaho said.

According to the researchers, continued infection can lead to mutations that make the virus more efficient at spreading in humans.

German scientists released a peer-reviewed study on Tuesday that found mutations in one of 47 cases of monkeypox that could help it spread more easily to humans.

“The alarm bells were ringing (in Africa), but we were pressing the snooze button. Now we have to wake up and do something about it,” Rimoin said. “An infection anywhere can be an infection anywhere.”

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Report by Jennifer Rigby and Natalie Grover; Additional reporting by Natalie Thomas in London; Edited by Michelle Gershberg, Bill Berkrot, and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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