At the moment, monkeypox does not constitute an international emergency: UN

At the moment, monkeypox does not constitute an international emergency: UN

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The Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (OMDS) considers that the monkeypox outbreak does not constitute, for the time being, a public health emergency of international concern.

After a three-day meeting, the Committee resolved by consensus to advise the Director General of the Organization to do not declare the highest level of alert according to international health regulations, although “some members expressed different opinions”.

So far, monkeypox has been detected in 50 countriesfrom all regions, with 3,000 cases since the beginning of May.

However, the Committee unanimously recognizes that the outbreak constitutes an emergency and that controlling it will require an “intense” response. Experts advise monitoring the situation closely and reviewing it after a few weeks, once more information about the current unknowns becomes available, to determine if there have been any significant changes that might warrant reconsidering the decision.

“The Emergency Committee shared their deep concern about the scale and speed of the current outbreak, pointed out many unknowns and gaps in the current data, and prepared a consensus report reflecting the different views of the committee,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, the CEO of the Organization.

“They advised me that at this time the event does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern, which is the highest level of alert that the WHO can issue, but they recognized that the convening of the committee itself reflects the growing concern by the international spread of monkeypox.

Tedros added that the WHO is “very closely” following the evaluation of the disease. “What makes the current outbreak especially concerning is the continued rapid spread to new countries and regions, and the risk of sustained new transmission in vulnerable populations, such as immunosuppressed people, pregnant women and children”, he explained.

The Committee notes that many aspects of the current multinational monkeypox virus outbreak are unusual, such as the occurrence of cases in countries where it had not been previously documented circulation, and the fact that the vast majority of cases are observed among young men who have sex with men, not previously immunized against smallpox (knowing that smallpox vaccination is effective in protecting against smallpox as well). monkeypox).

Some members suggested that, given the low level of population immunity against smallpox virus infection, there is a risk of transmission in the general population that should not be overlooked. The Committee also stresses that the activity of the Monkeypox virus has been neglected and poorly controlled for years in African countries.

Other knowledge gaps and areas of uncertainty, on which more information is needed to support a more complete public health risk assessment of this event, are: modes of transmission; the full spectrum of clinical presentation; the infectious period; reservoir species and the potential for reverse zoonosis; and access to vaccines and antivirals and their efficacy in humans.

The monkeypox virus is most often spread through direct contact with the rash or sores of someone who has the virus. It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding, and other items used by a person with the illness, or by respiratory droplets that can be transmitted through prolonged face-to-face contact. The risk of aerosol transmission is not yet fully understood. The WHO recommends that health workers caring for monkeypox patients wear a mask.

Symptoms usually begin seven to 14 days after exposure, but in some cases they may not appear for up to 21 days. The most common symptom is a rash or sores on the skin. Flu-like symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and tiredness may also occur. In some cases, monkeypox can cause severe illness.

The UN agency does not recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox. In the few places where vaccines are available, they are being used to protect those who may be exposed, such as health workers and laboratory personnel.

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