It is gravely concerning that the United States and other countries are not doing enough to prevent monkeypox from becoming a large-scale global outbreak, according to infectious disease epidemiologists.
A public health emergency of international concern was declared by the World Health Organization over the weekend for monkeypox.
According to the WHO, the outbreak is now considered a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent it from potentially escalating into a pandemic.
There is a unique factor in this outbreak where we have knowledge of the virus and have it at the same time as other countries in high quantities. And if we look at case counts, America is trailing behind Spain with the most cases. Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the special pathogens program at New York City Health + Hospitals, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia on Monday. She added that it is not a problem to ignore. What is more concerning is that this virus becomes established in the United States, as well as in countries where it is not endemic.
“It’s really outrageous,” Madad said, particularly considering the recent Covid pandemic, that countries are trying to contain monkeypox.
she stated that having learned all the lessons from Covid-19, we shouldn’t be dealing with an outbreak of this magnitude and are doing insufficient to prevent this from becoming endemic.
Even though the WHO declaration does not impose requirements on national governments, it serves as an urgent call to action.
A growing number of virus cases
Monkeypox can be spread by respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face contact or physical intimacy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, the virus can spread through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin and contaminated items like bedsheets and clothing.
There have been more than 16,000 monkeypox cases reported across 70 countries so far this year, and the number of confirmed infections increased by 77% from late June to early July, according to WHO data.
At present, men who have sex with men face the highest risk of infection; however, the virus is beginning to spread to a wider community.
As an example, in the United States, two children contracted monkeypox through household transmission of someone with monkeypox. We anticipate those numbers will increase over time as more transmissions occur in the community, she said.
WHO warned against complacency in containing the outbreak on Monday, saying there is no guarantee the virus won’t spread within a specific community.
According to the U.N. health agency, the disease has so far mostly affected gay and bisexual communities, but there is little evidence that it will remain a minority disease.
Their detection early on could be a sign of a wider outbreak.
The vaccine challenge in the United States
To prevent the spread of monkeypox, Madad said that the best strategy is to vaccinate people who are at risk and may have been exposed. Access to vaccines is, however, a problem, especially in the U.S.
President Joe Biden could declare a public health emergency if the monkeypox outbreak continues to grow, according to a senior White House official on Friday. A public health emergency declaration would enhance the U.S. response to the outbreak, according to Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid response coordinator.
There have been more than 2,500 monkeypox cases reported so far in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC.
We’re continuing to release the vaccines to territories, cities and states. At the end of this year, we’ll have about 1.6 million vaccines by the end of 2023 or mid-2023 – we’re going to have millions of doses,” Madad said.
And that’s not going fast enough, she added. We really need to get ahead of this epidemic.
Why you should be worried about monkeypox
1. Monkeypox is a serious viral infection that causes symptoms similar to smallpox.
2. The virus is most commonly found in Africa, where it primarily affects monkeys and humans.
3. However, recent outbreaks have occurred in other parts of the world, including the United States.
4. Monkeypox is considered a serious public health threat because it can spread easily from person to person and has the potential to cause a global outbreak.
How can I protect myself?
The best way to protect yourself from monkeypox is to avoid contact with infected animals or people. If you must come in contact with an infected person, wear gloves and a mask. Avoid touching your face or body with contaminated clothing or objects. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Finally, get vaccinated against smallpox.
Are there any risks in handling infected people?
There is a risk of contracting monkeypox if you come in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, or mucus. The virus can also be spread through contact with contaminated objects, such as bedding or clothing. Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that can lead to blistering and scarring. In severe cases, monkeypox can be fatal.