(CTN News) – The World Health Organization expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where monkeypox is not typically found.
92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported from 12 countries not endemic to the virus, the UN agency said on Saturday, adding that it will provide countries with guidance and recommendations on how to mitigate its spread in the coming days.
Human-to-human transmission may occur among those in close contact with cases who are symptomatic, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox is endemic to parts of Western and Central Africa.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease endemic to parts of West and Central Africa. Because it can be contained relatively easily through self-isolation and hygiene, it can be spread by close contact.
David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist for WHO, told Reuters: “What appears to be happening is that it has taken on a sexual form, a genital form, and it is spreading as are sexually transmitted infections around the world.”
In a video conference meeting, Heymann said an international panel of experts looked at how the outbreak should be studied and communicated to the public, including whether there is an asymptomatic spread, who is at most risk, and the various routes of transmission.
The committee is not the one that would recommend declaring a public health emergency of international concern, the highest alert level applicable to COVID-19.
The key transmission route was close contact because lesions typical of the disease are very infectious. Some countries have started inoculating teams treating monkeypox patients with vaccines for smallpox, a related virus because parents caring for sick children are at risk.
Some of the cases in Europe have shown similarities to the strain that spread in Britain, Israel, and Singapore in 2018.
Heymann said it was “biologically plausible” that the virus was circulating outside of endemic countries but was not causing significant outbreaks due to COVID-19 lockdowns, social isolation, and travel restrictions.