Monkeypox Won’t Turn Into Pandemic, But Many Unknowns: WHO

Geneva: The top monkeypox expert of World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t expect the virus to turn into another pandemic, but acknowledged that there are many unknowns about the disease.

Hundreds of cases have so far been reported from around 25 countries in Europe and North America, yet it’s still not known how exactly it’s spreading and whether suspension of mass smallpox immunization decades ago may be speeding its transmission, Dr Rosamund Lewis said on Monday.

She remarked it was important to emphasize that vast majority of cases are being found in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, and that scientists can further study the issue so that those at risk can take precautions.

“It’s very important to describe this because it appears to be an increase in a mode of transmission that may have been under-recognized in the past,” observed Dr Lewis.

She went on to warn that anyone is at potential risk of the disease, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“It is not yet known whether this virus is exploiting a new mode of transmission, but what is clear is that it continues to exploit its well-known mode of transmission, which is close, physical contact,” she said.

Historically, monkeypox is known to spread when there is close physical contact with an infected person, their clothing or bedsheets.

Dr Lewis said that among current cases, there is a higher proportion of people with fewer lesions which are concentrated in the genital region and sometimes nearly impossible to see.

“You may have these lesions for two to four weeks and they may not be visible to others, but you may still be infectious,” she warned.

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