Health: WHO Declares Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency - Here's What We Know

Monkeypox Numbers In Canada Are Expected To Rise As WHO Declares A Public Health Emergency

  Monkeypox Numbers In Canada Are Expected To Rise As WHO Declares A Public Health Emergency There are 681 confirmed cases in Canada.According to a statement from the government agency on Saturday, July 23, there are currently 681 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Canada across five provinces.

On Saturday, July 23, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, issued a statement officially declaring the monkeypox outbreak a global public health emergency. This decree came just a month after the organization decided against ruling the outbreak a public health emergency. Since the initial decision in June, cases have jumped from just over 3,000 in 47 countries to over 16,000 in 75 countries, including five deaths, according to the WHO. There are 2,891 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US, including two children, according to the CDC.

WHO Declares Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency - Here's What We Know © Getty / ROGER HARRIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY WHO Declares Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency - Here's What We Know

"[W]e have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations," Dr. Tedros said in a WHO release. "For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern."

Controlling monkeypox: The time for Canada to act is now

  Controlling monkeypox: The time for Canada to act is now The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It’s likely that until about two months ago, many Canadians had not even heard of this disease. Since May, monkeypox has been in the news everywhere, including Canada, where the number of infections has reached 681 as of July 22. It has started spreading from major cities such as Toronto and Montréal into regional centres such as Hamilton, where the first case was publicly reported July 4. The good news is this: monkeypox is still quite isolated relative to the total population.

According to the WHO's assessment, the global risk of monkeypox is moderate, but in Europe, the risk is high. There have been over 10,000 cases in 36 countries and areas throughout the European region, according to a July 20 release from the WHO and the European Centre For Disease Prevention and Control. There's also a risk of "further international spread, although the risk of interference with international traffic remains low for the moment," Dr. Tedros said.

The declaration concerns the public, but Dr. Tedros cautioned that men who have sex with men, and especially those with multiple sex partners, are the most vulnerable to monkeypox. "Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus," Dr. Tedros warned. He called on countries to work with this vulnerable population to create effective services, deliver proper information, and adopt measures that protect not just public health, but the rights and dignity of affected communities.

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With not enough tests or vaccines available, the mishandling of the outbreak in the US looks eerily similar to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to public health experts. "The CDC, the FDA, and all of it - they haven't learned a single lesson from Covid," AIDS activist and PrEP4All founder Peter Staley told The Guardian. "They haven't spent the time to make sure that they don't repeat those mistakes, because all of them have been repeated."

On July 11, the CDC said commercial labs had started testing for monkeypox, which increased testing capacity and made it easier for providers and patients to access tests. Then on June 28, despite President Joe Biden's reassurances that monkeypox didn't "[rise] to the level of the kind of concern that existed with COVID-19," the US announced a federal vaccination campaign.

The same day, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center, a command center "for monitoring and coordinating the emergency response to monkeypox and mobilizing additional CDC personnel and resources." It also issued new guidelines for healthcare providers on June 14 regarding how to identify monkeypox during this outbreak, encouraging testing in people with relevant history, signs, and symptoms.

How at risk are kids in the monkeypox outbreak?

  How at risk are kids in the monkeypox outbreak? At least five cases of monkeypox in kids are confirmed in the U.S. How much of a risk is monkeypox in kids? What parents should know about symptoms, treatment.Monkeypox has been spreading quickly in the U.S. and around the world. In May and early June, there were just a smattering of cases in the U.S., but since then, the virus has been spreading at an accelerating rate, with 812 new cases reported on July 25 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Aug. 3, 6,617 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the U.S.

People usually catch monkeypox from animals through a bite or scratch. From there, it's possible to pass on the disease to other people through saliva from coughing or via contact with pus from the rash's lesions or items such as clothing or bedding that are contaminated with the virus. But recent evidence shows a new possible route of transmission: through sexual contact. Although monkeypox is typically not spread through sex, most of the recent cases in the UK involve men who've had sex with other men. And since it can be spread through contact with bodily fluids, Dr. Susan Hopkins, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency's chief medical adviser, said, "We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay."

Another cause for concern is that the cases in each country are not connected, so scientists are monitoring the outbreak to see if there are other methods of transmission that are causing the virus to spread faster.

Find additional useful information ahead.

There’s a Monkeypox Treatment Drug Approved by the FDA—Here’s What We Know

  There’s a Monkeypox Treatment Drug Approved by the FDA—Here’s What We Know The antiviral medication is hard to get, and it protects against orthopox viruses.Here’s the thing: As of now, there’s just one medication that can treat monkeypox—tecovirimat, also known as Tpoxx. With reports circulating about regular increases in monkeypox cases, monkeypox spreading, and concerns about access to treatment, it’s understandable to have questions. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a very rare disease found primarily in remote parts of central and western Africa. Monkeypox cases usually arise when people travel to those areas, but what's different about this outbreak is that these recent cases appear to be spreading among people who didn't travel to Africa.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that falls within the family of pox viruses, which includes smallpox and cowpox. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, according to the CDC, among colonies of monkeys that were being kept for research (hence the name), but monkeys aren't major carriers. It's usually found among rodents, like rats or squirrels. Those who trap or kill those kinds of animals that are known carriers are more at risk. The virus hadn't spread to humans originally, but the first recorded human case was in 1970 in a 9-year-old boy living in a remote part of Congo.

What Are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

According to the CDC, traditional symptoms of monkeypox are similar to smallpox but are milder and include:

Fever


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Headache

Muscle aches

Swollen lymph nodes

Chills

Fatigue

Rash beginning on the face and hands (one to three days after the fever starts), then spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals. It initially looks similar to chicken pox or syphilis lesions before forming a scab, which then falls off.

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However, recent cases of monkeypox have differed in symptom arrival and presentation. Traditionally, the early signs of monkeypox included a fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and muscle aches followed by a rash resulting in firm lesions, spreading from the face and mouth to the hands and feet, per the CDC.

Recent US cases of monkeypox have also included a rash, but it has often begun in the genital or anal region, and sometimes in the mouth. The lesions have also begun spreading to areas beyond the face, hands, or feet.

Additionally, "symptoms including fever, malaise, headache, and lymphadenopathy [swollen lymph nodes] have not always occurred before the rash if they have occurred at all," per the CDC.

What's also new is that recent US patients are reporting pain in and around the anus and rectum, tenesmus (or the feeling that you need to pass a bowel movement even though your bowels are empty), and rectal bleeding. "None of those symptoms were commonly associated with monkeypox before," per NBC.

"Any patient who meets the suspected case definition should be counseled to implement appropriate transmission precautions," advised the CDC in its updated guidelines. Precautions for patients who are suspected and confirmed to have been infected include remaining in isolation for the duration of the infectious period (i.e., until all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed). "Patients who do not require hospitalization but remain potentially infectious to others should isolate at home. This includes abstaining from contact with other persons and pets, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., clothing to cover lesions, face mask) to prevent further spread," per the CDC.

If You Get Monkeypox, How Long Should You Isolate?

  If You Get Monkeypox, How Long Should You Isolate? Here’s how it works, according to the CDC.Health officials urge people who suspect they may have monkeypox to get tested and isolate if they test positive. And, while you’re probably familiar on some level with quarantine and isolation due to COVID-19, things are a little different for monkeypox.

How Is Monkeypox Spread?

Despite the fact that recent cases of monkeypox have been spread sexually and predominantly among men having sex with other men, "anyone can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox," per the CDC. "Monkeypox virus can also spread between people through respiratory droplets typically in a close setting, such as the same household or a healthcare setting, and pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta."

What Is Monkeypox Treatment?

Monkeypox symptoms last about two to four weeks, and most people will get over it without needing to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, it can be fatal for one in 10 people who get it, with more severe cases found in children.

Is There a Monkeypox Vaccine?

There is no vaccine for monkeypox exclusively. But the smallpox vaccine, under the brand name Jynneos in the US, is also licensed to prevent monkeypox. That being said, after smallpox was eradicated, countries stopped vaccinating children against smallpox. So younger populations who haven't received the smallpox vaccine don't have immunity against monkeypox either.

Do I Need a Monkeypox Vaccine?

Prior to the recent vaccination rollout announcement, immunizations were only offered to those with known exposure. Now the US is planning a vaccination campaign that will offer the Jynneos vaccine to anyone with a known or presumed exposure. This will include anyone "who had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox, those who know their sexual partner was diagnosed with monkeypox, and men who have sex with men who have recently had multiple sex partners in a venue where there was known to be monkeypox or in an area where monkeypox is spreading," according to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department will provide 296,000 doses of the vaccine, 56,000 of which will be made available immediately. The remaining 240,000 doses will be made available in the coming weeks. HHS expects more than 750,000 additional doses to be made available over the summer and a total of 1.6 million doses to be distributed in the US by the end of the year. The vaccine will be administered in two doses and given 28 days apart.

How Concerned Should I Be About Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is officially considered a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)," per WHO's announcement, so there is rising concern about the spread of monkeypox globally. It's important to remember that anyone can get monkeypox through exposure and skin-to-skin contact, not just men who sleep with men.

The CDC advises that "people who may have symptoms of monkeypox, such as unknown rashes or lesions, should contact their healthcare provider for assessment." And anyone with new lesions related to illnesses like chickenpox, herpes, or syphilis, should be checked for monkeypox too, as symptoms are quite similar, per the CDC.

Risk factors for monkeypox include in-person contact with someone who has a similar rash or someone that has received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected monkeypox, anyone who has contact with individuals in a social network experiencing monkeypox infections, and those who have traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported. Additionally, people experiencing flu-like symptoms and the above risk factors should self-quarantine. "If a rash does not appear within five days, the illness is unlikely to be monkeypox," the CDC said.

- Additional reporting by Alexis Jones, Melanie Whyte, and Sara Youngblood Gregory

WHO Reports Breakthrough Monkeypox Infections—Here’s What You Need to Know .
Experts explain everything you need to know to protect yourself against the virus.The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed a number of breakthrough cases of monkeypox after preliminary reports detail the efficacy of the vaccine. In a press briefing, Rosamund Lewis, M.D., C.M., WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, discussed reports of breakthrough cases in people who received a preventative vaccine following exposure to the virus.

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