Health experts are perplexed by a new monkeypox outbreak that has spread throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East, prompting fears of a more significant outbreak.
According to Our World in Data, there were 346 confirmed and suspected cases as of Wednesday in 22 countries outside of Africa, where the virus is widespread.
It’s the first time the virus has been seen in a community. Cases had previously been connected to travel to endemic regions of the virus or imported animals bearing the virus.
The majority of new cases have spread through sex, with a concentration among men who have sex with other men. The World Health Organization, on the other hand, has warned that anyone could get the infection. Children, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised are thought to be especially vulnerable.
“Anybody who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk,” a release on the WHO’s website said Wednesday.
Monkeypox is an uncommon disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which is related to smallpox but is usually milder. Monkeypox immunizations have been found to be 85 per cent effective against smallpox.
The World Health Organization warned Monday that mass vaccinations are unlikely to be required to combat the outbreak. However, given the rapidity of the outbreak and the lack of clarity around its cause, the public health organization recommended people practise good hygiene and safe sex to help in the outbreak’s control.
Protecting yourself against Monkeypox
While health experts agree that the virus poses little risk to the general public, there are a few steps you can take to lower your chances of catching it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, and the World Health Organization have made the following recommendations:
Avoid contact with someone who has recently been diagnosed with the virus or who may have been infected.
If you are in close proximity to someone who is experiencing symptoms, wear a face mask.
If you’ve recently changed sexual partners, use condoms and keep an eye out for symptoms.
Avoid contact with animals that may be infected with the virus. This includes animals that are sick or dead, as well as those who have already been infected, such as monkeys, rats, and prairie dogs.
Hand hygiene is important, especially the following contact with diseased — or suspected infected —animals or humans. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, for example.
When caring for patients with confirmed or suspected monkeypox, wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
Only eat meat that has been completely cooked.
Monkeypox can also be transferred through materials, so it’s best to avoid touching anything that has come into contact with a sick person or animal.
“This is a virus that can thrive on materials like blankets and stuff like that outside of the human host,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on Monday.