On Friday, the World Health Organization held an emergency meeting to investigate the recent epidemic of monkeypox, a viral virus more frequent in West and Central Africa, after over 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe.
Cases have been documented in at least nine countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, Canada, and Australia, in what Germany termed as Europe’s greatest outbreak ever.
On Friday, Spain reported 24 new cases, primarily in the Madrid region, where the regional government closed a sauna associated with the bulk of infections.
A hospital in Israel was treating a man in his 30s who had recently arrived from Western Europe and was exhibiting symptoms compatible with the condition.
The disease, which was first detected in monkeys, normally spreads through intimate contact and has seldom travelled outside of Africa, so this sequence of instances has sparked concern.
Scientists do not expect the outbreak to turn into a pandemic, as the virus does not spread as quickly as SARS-COV-2.
Monkeypox is often a minor viral infection characterised by fever and an unique bumpy rash.
‘This is the greatest and most extensive outbreak of monkeypox ever seen in Europe,’ said the medical department of Germany’s armed forces, which discovered the first case in the country on Friday.
The Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential (STAG-IH) of the World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting to discuss the issue. STAG-IH advises on infection risks that could pose a global health threat.
It would not be in charge of deciding whether the epidemic should be labelled a public health emergency of international concern, the highest level of alert now used to describe the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘At this point, there appears to be a low risk to the general public,’ a senior US government official said.