WHO says more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox worldwide, urges to reduce number of sexual partners

A doctor shows a positive result of the Monkeypox test on a computer screen.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez, Getty Images

  • More than 18,000 cases of monkey pox have been reported from 78 countries.
  • Most cases are in Europe.
  • The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global public health emergency on Saturday.

More than 18,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide from 78 countries, with the majority in Europe, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency on Saturday.

So far, 98% of cases outside countries in Africa where the virus is endemic have been reported in men who have sex with men, the WHO said.

The director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged that group to consider reducing the number of sexual partners and exchanging contact information with new partners.

“This is an outbreak that can be stopped … the best way to do that is to reduce the risk of exposure,” Tedros told a news conference from Geneva. “That means making safe choices for yourself and others.”

Monkeypox is currently being renamed to avoid the name being “armed” or being racist, said WHO emergency director Mike Ryan.

The UN agency recommends vaccination for high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men with multiple sexual partners, and health professionals.

READ | Monkeypox emergency could last for months, with window closing to stop spread, experts say

It warned that it will take several weeks after getting the second dose of vaccine to be fully protected, so people should take other precautions until then.

About 10% of patients have been hospitalized during the current outbreak and five have died, all in Africa, the WHO said.

Monkeypox has been a globally neglected public health problem in parts of Africa for decades, but cases were reported outside countries where it is endemic in May.

It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.

Tedros said there were about 16 million doses of approved vaccine available, but only in bulk, so it would take several months to get them into vials.

The WHO is urging countries with stockpiles to share vaccine while supplies are limited, he added.

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