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WHO not expecting 'at this moment' for Monkeypox to turn into pandemic

The U.N. standing body is still investigating a number of questions surrounding the virus that has broken out internationally.

Published: May 31, 2022 1:48pm

Updated: May 31, 2022 3:16pm

The World Health Organization says it does not think reported monkeypox case around the world right now will grow into a pandemic, but officials at the United Nations-led group still acknowledge many unknowns in connect with the recent outbreak. 

"At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic," Dr. Rosamund Lewis said Monday during a live Q&A. "We are concerned that individuals may acquire this infection through high-risk exposure if they don't have the information they need to protect themselves."

Though any individual is potentially at risk for the disease, the majority of cases have, thus far, been observed in gay and bisexual men. It is not yet known whether monkeypox spreads exclusively via sexual activity, though it is clear that close contact with an infected individual is how the disease is transmitted.

Lewis added that it is also unclear if individuals without symptoms can spread the disease, or whether it is airborne. 

Generally, the monkeypox virus is spread by touching or being bitten by infected animals in western and central parts of Africa. Scientists have not yet traced the current outbreak back to Africa. 

The U.N. standing body said that 23 countries have reported more than 250 cases of the illness so far, and the United Kingdom announced another 71 on Monday. 

One top WHO adviser recently said current cases are likely linked to sexual activity that took place at two raves in Spain and Belgium. 

The Centers for Disease and Prevention as of Tuesday reported 15 cases – three each in California, Florida, two each in Colorado, New York and Utah, and one each in Massachusetts and Virginia.

No deaths have been associated so far with this outbreak. 

Some of the symptoms of monkeypox, which is related to smallpox, presents milder symptoms including fever, chills, rash, and aches before lesions begin to develop. Most patients have recovered without needing to be hospitalized. 

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