The WHO says smallpox is not a global health emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday declared global smallpox not yet an international public health emergency.

The WHO convened an emergency committee on Thursday to discuss whether the mark, which has been given to only six outbreaks since 2007, is suitable for monkeys.

WTO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreius said in a statement that the emergency committee shared “serious concerns about the scale and speed of the current epidemic.”

“Overall, the report tells me that this incident is not a public health emergency of international importance at the moment, it is the highest level warning that the WTO can give,” he added.

In another statement, the WHO said the director general agreed with the committee’s council, but that several committee members “expressed different views.”

The WTO maintains this urgent message for “serious, unforeseen, extraordinary or unforeseen” events that threaten the health of several countries and may require an immediate, coordinated international response. The organization has already named Covid-19 as well as Ebola, Zika, H1N1 flu and polio.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4,000 cases of smallpox have been reported in 47 countries and territories around the world since the beginning of May. As of Friday, the United States had registered more than 200 cases in 25 states and Washington.

In the past, monkeys were found mainly in Africa, where they were found in 11 countries. According to the WHO, most cases of smallpox were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 1,200 cases were reported between January and May.

According to the international version of the virus, the death rate of the West African strain is 1%. No casualties were reported outside Africa due to the current epidemic. Second, the mortality rate in the Congo Basin strain is 10%.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Gebraius, at a press conference at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva in December 2021. Through the Fabrice Coffrini / AFP Getty Images file

“The committee noted that many aspects of the current epidemic in many countries are unusual, such as the smallpox outbreak in previously undocumented countries and the vast majority of cases occur among infected men. Sex with older men,” the WHO said on Saturday.

Some committee members said that given the low level of immunity in the population, there was a risk of “further persistent infection in the general population,” the WHO added.

According to Tedros, the committee will meet again “in the coming days and weeks” depending on how the epidemic develops. The committee recommended that the epidemic be reconsidered in a few weeks, for example, to observe a significant increase in the number of cases or significant changes in the evidence of a more serious or transient disease.

What are the symptoms of monkey smallpox

The name ape is misleading: the virus was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in Denmark in 1958, but it is more common in small rodents.

Earlier this month, an international team of scientists called for the virus to be renamed to prevent discriminatory associations. Tedros said last week that the WHO was working with experts to change the name of the virus, its strains and the disease it causes.

The organization also noted that in the recent epidemic, many people “turn to atypical symptoms,” including rashes localized to a single crack.

Traditionally, patients with smallpox develop flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches, followed by widespread rashes on the face, hands, and arms. However, some recent patients have reported that the first or only symptom was small bumps resembling acne or blisters. Some patients develop flu-like symptoms later, while others do not.

In many recent cases, rashes appear around the genitals or anus, and the lymph nodes become sore. CDC officials said last week that some U.S. patients reported pain in or around the anus and rectum, bleeding from the rectum, inflammation of the rectum membrane, or a feeling of needing bowel movements even when the bowel was empty.

Chickenpox can be similar to smallpox, herpes, or syphilis, so the CDC recommends that anyone who develops symptoms associated with these diseases be tested for chickenpox.

The virus appears to be transmitted mainly through sexual intercourse between men and men who have sex, but some cases have been reported in women. Anyone who comes in close physical contact can be infected through sores or rashes, as well as through respiratory contact and contaminated items such as clothing or bedding.

On Saturday, the WHO Emergency Situations Committee said it was “concerned about the rights of vulnerable groups to privacy, non-discrimination and physical and mental health, which will hamper further response efforts.”

What vaccines and treatments are available?

Both smallpox and smallpox are orthopoxiruses, so smallpox vaccines can be used to prevent smallpox. In particular, a bullet called Jynneos was specifically approved for use against monkeys in Canada and the United States, while in Europe it was approved for use against the disease.

The WHO no longer recommends mass vaccination against monkeys. Instead, it recommends that countries vaccinate those who are in close contact with infected people, preferably within four days, to prevent symptoms and the onset of the disease. The WHO also provides vaccines to health workers who have contracted the disease in monkeys and to laboratory workers who perform diagnostic tests for the virus.

A clinic opened in New York City on Thursday to vaccinate all gay, bisexual or other men who have had sex with men who have had “multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days,” including people with monkey disease. Health officials in the UK also said earlier this week that doctors there could vaccinate gay or bisexual men, including men who have multiple partners or have group sex.

“By expanding the supply of vaccines to at-risk groups, we hope to help break the infectious chains and contain the epidemic,” the doctor said. This was stated by Mary Ramsay, head of the immunization department of the British Health Agency.

Doctors can also provide anti-smallpox medications and support for patients with smallpox. Symptoms usually resolve after two to four weeks, but sores can leave scars.

The WHO recommends that infected people be isolated until they have developed a new layer of skin from scabies. He also recommends the use of condoms to “reduce the potential transmission of smallpox in monkeys, the risk of which is still unknown.”

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