Monkeypox outbreaks: A list of countries that recorded cases recently. Will it be like COVID-19 pandemic?

Updated: May 28, 2022, 07:54 PM(IST)

As per a recent statement released on May 20, WHO stated that there are about 80 confirmed monkeypox cases so far, and 50 pending investigations. It also added that more cases are likely to be reported as surveillance expands. 

Here's the list of countries where cases have been detected. Also, read about monkeypox symptoms and causes. 

Concerns over the rise in monkeypox infections

As the world continues to reel under coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impacts, global concerns have been raised over the recent increase in rare monkeypox infections in different parts of the world. 

Monkeypox is a viral infection that is more common in West and Central Africa. There's a recent spike in cases that were confirmed (or suspected) in Europe and some other countries. 

A top European health official warned on May 20 that cases of the rare monkeypox virus could accelerate in the coming months. 

WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said that "as we enter the summer season... with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate". 

(Photograph:AFP)

WHO responds to the outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned on May 27 that some 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside of countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning. 

"We don't know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg," Sylvie Briand, WHO's epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief, acknowledged in a briefing to countries on the "unusual" spread of the virus.

Previously, WHO said that it expects more cases of monkeypox to emerge globally. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

List of countries where cases are detected

As per a statement released on May 20, WHO stated that the recent outbreaks reported across the US, UK, Australia and several European countries are atypical as they are occurring in non-endemic countries. 

Here's a list of countries

United States

United Kingdom

Canada

Australia

Israel

United Arab Emirates

Argentina

EUROPE: Spain, Portugal, Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Ireland

(Photograph:AFP)

Why is monkeypox spread concerning?

Monkeypox is an uncommon disease and has raised concerns worldwide after multiple cases were detected in European countries recently. The monkeypox outbreaks mostly occur in west and central Africa. Occasionally it spreads elsewhere. 

(Photograph:AFP)

Will it be like COVID-19?

People across the world are worried that is monkeypox is spreading Covid? Sylvie Briand, WHO's epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief, told member state representatives attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva that "we are still at the very, very beginning of this event." 

"We know that we will have more cases in the coming days," she said, but stressed there was no need to "panic".

She added, "This is not a disease the general public should be worried about. It is not Covid or other diseases that spread fast." 

(Photograph:Reuters)

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which killed millions around the world every year before it was eradicated in 1980.

But monkeypox is much less severe, with a fatality ratio of three to six per cent. Most people recover within three to four weeks.

The initial symptoms include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a chickenpox-like rash. 

While many of the cases have been linked to men having sex with men, experts stress there is no evidence it was a sexually transmitted disease. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

How does monkeypox transmit?

Transmission usually happens due to close contact with infected animals such as rodents and monkeys and is limited between people. 

As per US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone "can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox". 

The US health body added that household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Monkeypox has only been fatal in rare cases. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

What's the treatment for monkeypox?

As far as the treatment is concerned, it doesn't exist, but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks. The disease is considered endemic in 11 African nations. 

There are antiviral drugs for smallpox that could also be used to treat monkeypox under certain circumstances, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

More broadly, health officials say that people should avoid close personal contact with someone who has a rash illness or who is otherwise unwell. People who suspect they have monkeypox should isolate and seek medical care.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Did scientists warn about monkeypox in 2019?

It appears that experts had issued a warning for the monkeypox disease three years ago, a report by the Sunday Telegraph suggestsed. 

The media outlet released a report recalling an old seminar. In 2019, experts attended a seminar in London and discussed the need to develop "new generation vaccines and treatments". 

In the seminar, the experts apparently discussed that a large part of the world population (said to be 70%) is not protected against smallpox as, after the eradication of the disease, smallpox vaccinations have been stopped (or paused). It eventually means that the particular population is no longer protected against other viruses in the same family. 

As per the report, the scientists had highlighted recent monkeypox outbreaks, such as in 2003, 2018 and 2019 and suggested that the rare monkeypox disease was emerging again. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Monkeypox fears in India

In India, health authorities are alarmed as monkeypox cases are being identified across the world. No monkeypox case has been identified yet in India. however, the health authorities in the country are keeping a close watch over the spread of the virus. 

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) official on May 27 said that India is prepared given increasing infections in the non-endemic countries. 

While speaking to India-based news agency ANI, Dr Aparna Mukherjee, Scientist C, ICMR said, "India is prepared for the infections as it is rapidly spreading in non-endemic countries like Europe, USA and others. However, no cases have been reported in India so far." 

(Photograph:Reuters)

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