STOCKHOLM: The risk of monkeypox spreading widely among the general population is very low and transmission can be stopped outside endemic countries in Central and West Africa, health officials said on Monday, after cases exploded this month in Europe and North America.

Fewer than 200 confirmed and suspected cases had been recorded since early May in Australia, Europe and North America, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, sparking fears over the spread of the disease. Although monkeypox has been known for 40 years, WHO said it was the first time there had been several cases across many countries simultaneously and among people who had not travelled to the endemic regions in Africa.

But the UN agency said the outbreaks in non-endemic countries could be brought under control and human-to-human transmission of monkeypox stopped.

The EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also played down fears of a spread among the wider public.

Monkeypox, which is not usually fatal, can cause a fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person. No treatment exists, but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks. The disease is considered endemic in 11 African nations.

US President Joe Biden insisted Monday “extra efforts” would not be needed to prevent the spread.

Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022

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