As the risk of monkeypox increases in non-endemic countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning on the spread of the zoonotic disease which has more than a thousand cases worldwide.
"More than 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have now been reported to WHO from 29 countries that are not endemic for the disease," World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, adding that no deaths had been reported globally so far from the outbreaks.
"The risk of monkeypox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real," the UN health agency head said.
Monkeypox, which was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, is endemic in humans in nine African countries.
"Some countries are now beginning to report cases of apparent community transmission," WHO said.
"What's different now is that we are seeing cases in countries that don't normally have monkeypox cases. This is very unusual," WHO expert Dr. Rosamund Lewis said in a video shared by the world health body.
"We have never seen an outbreak like this," she noted.
The initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash. Muscle ache, lesions, and chills are the common symptoms of monkeypox. The virus has a fatality ratio of three to six percent although most people recover within three to four weeks.
"Most people who contract the virus do not become seriously ill. However, the risk has been described as moderate because it's spreading to locations where it has never been reported before. So this new pattern of spread is concerning," Dr. Rosamund Lewis explained.
While WHO has not recommended mass vaccination against the spreading virus, the agency shared guidelines on care, infection prevention and control. Here are the recommendations by WHO on Monkeypox:
1. People with symptoms should isolate themselves at home and consult a health worker, while family members should avoid close contact.
2. Extra precautions should be followed while handling cleaning linens, household surfaces and during waste disposal of the patient.
3. All patients are advised to abstain from sexual activity until all skin lesions have crusted, the scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed underneath.
4. Patients at high risk - young children, pregnant women, and those who are immunosuppressed or with severe or complicated infections- should be admitted to the hospital for closer monitoring and clinical care.
5. Newborns of infected mothers should be constantly monitored, and infant feeding practices should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.