Africa: Europe – WHO Supporting Countries Affected By Rare Monkeypox Outbreak

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with European countries where cases of the rare viral disease monkeypox have been reported, the UN agency said on Friday.

Monkeypox occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but outbreaks have emerged in other parts of the world in recent days. Symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

More than 100 cases have been detected across Europe, according to media reports, and WHO said at least eight countries are affected – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

No travel link

Hans Kluge, Regional Director for the UN agency, said the cases are atypical, citing three reasons.

All but one, are not linked to travel to endemic countries. Many were detected through sexual health services and are among men who have sex with men. Furthermore, it is suspected that transmission may have been ongoing for some time, as the cases are geographically dispersed across Europe and beyond.

Most of the cases are so far mild, he added.

“monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness, and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment,” said Dr. Kluge. “However, the disease can be more severe, especially in young children, pregnant women, and individuals who are immunocompromised.”

Working to limit transmission

WHO is working with the concerned countries, including to determine the likely source of infection, how the virus is spreading, and how to limit further transmission.

Countries are also receiving guidance and support on surveillance, testing, infection prevention and control, clinical management, risk communication and community engagement.