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CDC issues travel warning as WHO downplays risk of monkeypox pandemic

May 31, 2022 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates its monkeypox travel advisory as global cases continue to increase.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said risks to the public remain low, but travelers should “exercise enhanced precautions” and avoid close contact with sick people.

The Travel Warning has shifted from Level 1, where travelers are advised to “watch” and “practice usual precautions”. Now at level 2, travelers should be in an “alert” state. The next and final advisory level, or level 3, may reach the “warning” stage and encourage people to “avoid non-essential travel”.

For now, the CDC recommends travelers stay vigil and seek medical attention if they have an unexplained rash.

As of Monday, the United States has confirmed 15 cases of monkeypox, or orthopoxvirus, a family of viruses that includes monkeypox, according to the latest CDC data.

California and Florida each have three cases, followed by two each in Colorado, New York and Utah. One case was identified each in Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington.

Globally, 23 countries have reported 257 confirmed cases of monkeypox, along with 127 suspected cases, according to a WHO update on Sunday. In non-endemic countries, no deaths have been linked to the virus so far.

The UK continues to have the most severe outbreak of the disease, with 106 cases. Portugal has reported 49 cases, followed by Canada with 26 confirmed cases and 35 suspected cases.

Most cases do not have any travel links to Central or West Africa, where monkeypox is endemic. Instead, most have been identified in primary care offices and sexual health services when patients report unexplained rashes, the WHO said.

She said, “The identification of confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox with no direct travel links to an endemic area is unusual.” “One case of monkeypox in a non-endemic country is considered an outbreak.”

With the “sudden appearance” of dozens of outbreaks in several non-endemic countries at the same time, undetected transmission may have been occurring for some time but has amplified in recent weeks, the agency said.

Early WHO investigations found that cases were reported among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The World Health Organization has urged public health authorities to focus on providing accurate information to groups facing the highest risks and protecting frontline health care workers who may be exposed to disease.

The World Health Organization said more cases of monkeypox have been reported in countries where the virus is endemic. So far this year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has confirmed 1,284 cases and 58 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 46 cases and no deaths, and Cameroon with 25 infections and nine deaths. In recent weeks, the Central African Republic has reported eight cases and two deaths, and the Republic of the Congo has reported two cases and no deaths.

“The situation is rapidly evolving and WHO expects that there will be more cases identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries, as well as in countries known to be endemic that have not reported cases recently,” the WHO said.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization officials said Monday they do not believe the monkeypox outbreak will turn into a widespread pandemic, according to CBS News.

“We are not worried about a global pandemic,” Rosamund Lewis, who leads the Smallpox Secretariat in the WHO’s emergency program, told news outlets.

She said WHO officials wanted to know more about the recent transmission of monkeypox.

“We are concerned that individuals may contract this infection at high risk if they do not have the information they need to protect themselves,” she said. “We are concerned that since the world’s population is not immune to orthopoxviruses since the end of smallpox eradication, the virus may try to take advantage of a certain niche and spread more easily among people. But we don’t have an answer to that question yet.”

2022-05-31 18:43:58

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