More than 550 cases of monkeypox have now been recorded in 30 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a new update, the WHO said it had received reports of 257 confirmed cases and about 120 suspected cases in 23 countries where the virus is not endemic.
“What we’re seeing now is really quite different,” the group’s expert on the disease, Rosamund Lewis, told CNN.
“We’re seeing cases all appearing in a relatively short period of time. We’re seeing that in a few days, in a couple of weeks, we’re seeing over 500 cases.”
“This is different. This has not been seen before.”
Cases soar in Europe as WHO declares moderate risk
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which spreads from one person to another through contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects.
It can cause fevers, headaches, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion before it develops into a rash, starting at the mouth and face then spreading to the rest of the body.
Since it was first seen in humans in 1970, most cases have been found in Central and West Africa.
Of the 550 cases now identified, most have been recorded in Europe.
Officials in the UK on Tuesday confirmed 179 cases while Spain has recorded 120.
The WHO has declared the monkeybox outbreak as a moderate global public health risk.
“Considering this is the first time that monkey cases and clusters are reported concurrently in widely disparate WHO geographical areas, and without known epidemiological links to non-endemic countries in West or Central Africa."
Not another pandemic
While the source of the outbreak remains unknown, the WHO is not worried about a global pandemic of monkeypox.
“It’s been there before, and we do have a baseline of knowledge that we can build on, but there are many questions still,” Ms Lewis said.
The WHO will meet this week to set out a research agenda and look into priorities for the virus.
In the meantime, it’s urging countries to take advantage of the “window of opportunity” to keep cases from spreading.
Healthcare providers are being told to watch closely for possible symptoms, and test anyone that displays these symptoms.
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