Risk that monkeypox will spread outside Africa On Wednesday, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, issued a warning that the window of opportunity to stop the spread of monkeypox around the world may be closing.
During a briefing in Geneva, he made the following statement: “The possibility of monkeypox getting established in non-endemic countries is genuine.”
Since the beginning of May, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed over a thousand cases of monkeypox in 29 countries outside of West and Central Africa, where the virus is found naturally.
It is possible that the virus will remain dormant at low levels for an infinite period of time if outbreaks are not stopped and the disease spreads to new areas. It is also feasible that in some areas the number of cases may reach epidemic proportions, which would indicate that a huge number of people would become ill in a very short period of time.
According to Amira Albert Roess, a professor of global health and epidemiology at George Mason University, “when you keep moving forward into the future and more and more folks become infected, you do start to worry.” “Is this going to become something that is just going to keep on spreading from person to person, and then we will not be able to control it?” “Is this going to become something that is going to keep on moving from person to person?”
Multiple epidemics around the world would constitute a pandemic. But experts aren’t betting on that outcome – WHO leaders and disease experts agree it’s not too late to stop the trend.
“There’s still a window of opportunity to prevent the onward spread of monkeypox among people at highest risk right now,” Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead on monkeypox, said at the briefing.
Two smallpox vaccines — both approved by the Food and Drug Administration — may be important to the preventative effort. The U.S. government’s favored shot, called Jynneos, is expressly approved for treatment against monkeypox.
“This is one of the rare diseases in which you can vaccine somebody after they’ve been infected, before they have symptoms, and block the sickness,” said Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“We would have to really screw things up not to be able to contain this,” he continued.
Is there a chance that monkeypox will spread to further countries?
Historically, monkeypox hasn’t transferred easily from person to person. Prior to this, a cluster of 47 cases of monkeypox in the United States in 2003 was the greatest outbreak of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. At that time, however, there is no evidence that the disease was passed from person to person; all of the diseased individuals had come into contact with sick prairie dogs.
In the current outbreak, the primary driver of transmission seems to be skin-to-skin contact between people, typically involving exposure to infected people’s rashes or lesions.
“Right now we’re more at danger for the virus maybe becoming endemic owing to continued human-to-human transmission and our inability to interrupt the transmission cycle,” Roess added.
That cycle is influenced by a number of different elements. For one, some monkeypox cases are challenging to identify. Patients develop rashes that are similar to those caused by chickenpox, syphilis, or herpes; however, in certain cases, the rash may be confined to the genital region, making it more difficult to diagnose.
Second, those who study diseases are concerned that the United States is not processing tests at a fast enough rate to discover new instances in a timely manner.
Roess stated that “it still does take a few days from the time that someone is recognized to the time that we can confirm their diagnosis.”
According to Dr. Stuart Isaacs, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the virus could have “epidemic potential” in the United States, which means there would be a significant increase in the number of cases, if a single infected person spread monkeypox to more than one other person on average. This was stated by Dr. Isaacs in a recent article. That has not been the case in the past, and to this point, the United States has only registered a little more than 40 cases.
Isaacs stated that it is still too early to declare absolutely that this [outbreak] isn’t going to burst, despite the fact that the likelihood of this happening is still quite low.
He continued by saying, “The reason this is endemic in Africa is because there are animal reservoirs.” “The virus is multiplying and spreading among animals, and every so often it makes the leap into human beings or nonhuman primates,”
Discussions on whether or not to classify the monkeypox outbreak as a pandemic
Roess stated that in the past, countries outside of Africa were able to quickly put an end to monkeypox epidemics through testing and tracking of contact individuals; however, the present outbreak is unprecedentedly broad and extensive.
Experts don’t yet sure whether its scale is a clue that monkeypox has evolved to get better at human-to-human transmission or whether countries are merely unearthing the extent of an outbreak that went undiscovered for some time.
Already, the monkeypox outbreak may fit the formal definition of a pandemic: The virus is spreading from person to person in at least two nations, and there are community-level epidemics in several parts of the world.
But in general, when we talk about pandemics, we talk about diseases in which everyone is significantly at risk in every country or practically every country, said Toner. “But in general, when we talk about pandemics, we talk about diseases in which we talk about.” “So far, this has not hit that threshold, and I don’t think it ever will.”
Roess stated that it is likely that the fact that the COVID-19 epidemic is still ongoing makes global health leaders cautious about declaring a state of emergency.
She stated that there is a great deal of reluctance to call this a pandemic at this time.
The fact that this kind of monkeypox does not typically pose a risk to a person’s life should, nevertheless, give rise to cautious optimism. In spite of the fact that monkeypox rashes can be excruciatingly painful and result in permanent scarring, medical professionals are able to treat them using smallpox antivirals and provide supportive care. To this far, non-endemic countries have not reported any fatalities due to the disease.
“We should be raising alarms and investigating this and comprehending this,” Isaacs added. “But we’re not at a panic state yet.”