The World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”.
The maximum emergency alert came after the World Health Organization’s committee convened for a second emergency meeting, following a global increase of more than 16,000 cases in 75 countries. There have also been five deaths linked to the outbreak, including three in Nigeria and two in the Central African Republic.
According to the Australian Department of Health and Elderly Care (DHAC), there were 41 confirmed cases in Australia as of July 19.
This includes 22 in New South Wales, 15 in Victoria, two in the Australian Capital Territory, one in Queensland and one in South Australia.
In a media briefing early Sunday morning, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while there was a “clear risk of further international spread”, “the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the time being.” .
“The WHO assessment is that the risk of #monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except for the European region where we assess the risk as high,” he said.
“We have an outbreak that has spread across the world rapidly, with new modes of transmission, of which we understand very little and that meet the criteria in the International Health Regulations.”
Dr. Ghebreyesus also said that the outbreak is currently “concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners”, but urged against “stigma and discrimination”.
“This means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” he said.
“It is therefore imperative that all countries work closely with MSM communities, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect both the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities.”
According to the DHAC, the virus “usually begins with fever and swollen lymph nodes and may also include headache, muscle aches, joint pain, and back pain.”
Most patients also have rashes and lesions that can occur in one part or the entire body. This includes the mouth, eyes, and genitals. The lesions have been described as “the pimples you see with chickenpox, but they are larger.”
Symptoms can appear anywhere between five to 21 days after infection, but symptoms usually appear within seven to 14 days.
There is also a vaccine and treatment available in Australia.
This is the second time in two years that the World Health Organization has declared a global emergency. Currently, the warning has also been issued about the Covid-19 pandemic and the attempt to eradicate polio. The same classification was also given for the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and the Zika virus epidemic from 2015 to 2016.