The rapidly spreading monkeypox virus led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare it a “public health emergency of international concern” this month.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement that “the epidemic has intensified and now more than 16,000 cases and five deaths have been reported in 75 countries and territories.”
He added: “We have a new outbreak humble of contagionabout which we understand very little.’
In recent years, the health agency has issued similar declarations for the COVID-19, Ebola, and Zika viruses.
How dangerous is monkey pox?
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 among groups of monkeys used for research. The first case of monkeypox in humans was recorded in 1970. The virus is spread mainly through close contact with an infected person.
Until this year, the virus rarely spread outside of Africa. But reports of new cases in Europe and elsewhere suggest the epidemic has spread around the world.
Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to chickenpox, but milder. Most patients only feel do not hesitate thinks, and fatigue. Some are a rashes Cuts on the face and hands that may spread to other parts of the body. The illness usually lasts two to four weeks.
The virus can be spread from person to person through direct contact with an infected rash, through sexual contact with an infected person, or through contact with their clothing or bedding. A pregnant woman can also transmit the virus to the fetus.
Unlike the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, monkeypox does not spread easily through the air.
Anyone can spread the virus, but outbreaks outside of Africa have been mostly among men who have sex with men.
Why the emergency?
Health officials in several countries have urged the World Health Organization to declare monkeypox a public health emergency as the disease has spread rapidly over the past month.
From June to July, the WHO reported that the number of cases of monkeypox increased from 3,040 to more than 16,000. Also, the number of infected countries increased from 47 to 75.
Officials were particularly concerned that the disease was spreading rapidly among people who had not traveled to endemic Africa. This means that it has become a permanent basis in one area.
A declaration of emergency usually brings more resources and efforts to fight the outbreak. It also encourages countries to work together to test and produce vaccines and treatments for the disease.
So far, the WHO has said the risk of monkeypox is “moderate” worldwide, with the exception of Europe, where it has rated the risk as “high”.
How to protect yourself
CDC health officials advise that people should avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash similar to monkeypox. They say:
- Do not touch, hug, kiss, or have sex with someone who has monkeypox.
- don’t share dishes to eat or drink
- Do not touch bedding or clothing of an infected person.
- And wash your hands frequently with soap or hand sanitizer disinfectant.
In Central and West Africa, the CDC says people should avoid contact with animals that can spread the monkeypox virus, such as monkeys and rodents. They should also stay away from sick or dead animals.
Currently, health officials are still learning whether children and people with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to the disease.
If you have monkeypox, health officials say you should stay isolated.
There is no cure for monkeypox. However, the CDC says monkeypox and chickenpox viruses are genetically similar, which means antiviral drugs and vaccines designed to protect against smallpox can be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
Health officials in the U.S. and Europe say antiviral drugs such as tecoxiramit can be given to people who are seriously ill. This group includes patients with a weak immune system.
Health officials in Europe and the US recently announced that they would send monkeypox vaccines to affected communities. The two-shot vaccine is being produced at Bavarian Nordic’s plant in Denmark.
I’m Kathy Weaver.
Hai Do wrote this report for VOA Learning English with information from WHO and CDC.
These are the words in the story
mode – n. a special way of doing something
contagion – the process of spreading something that does not exist
don’t hesitate – n. body temperature that is higher than normal
to find – no acute, but long-lasting pain
rashes – n. red spots on the skin caused by an infection or reaction to a substance
vessel – a device used in the home or kitchen
disinfectant – things used to make something free from infection and disease
isolated – adj. separated from others
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