WHO Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency

monkeypox virus
Early symptoms of monkeypox will be followed by a rash of fluid-filled blisters in one to three days. [LLU Health]

The World Health Organization (WHO) declares monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) as global cases surpass 16,000.

The rapid spread of the monkeypox disease has been reported in over 74 countries and five related deaths in Africa.

The decision was announced Saturday morning after WHO convened its second emergency committee on the issue on Thursday.

“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Saturday morning.

He added that, “For the moment this is an outbreak that’s concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those who have multiple partners, that means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.”

How Is a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern (PHEIC) Is Determined?

WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease.”

It was put in place to sound the alarm that the emergency may “potentially require a coordinated international response” and would likely require efforts to collaborate funding and efforts on sharing vaccines and other forms of treatment.

PHEIC indicates that situation is an emergency when it is “serious, sudden, unusual, and unexpected.”

According to CNN, Four other PHEICs have been declared since the regulations were put into place: H1N1 influenza from 2009 to 2010; Ebola from 2014 to 2016 and from 2019 to 2020; and the Zika virus in 2016.

What You Should Know About Monkeypox?

According to CDC, Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. The virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox.

Monkeypox symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and monkeypox is rarely fatal.

Monkeypox Rash

The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

The CDC notes that monkeypox is not related to chickenpox and can spread through contact with body fluids, sores or items such as clothing and bedding contaminated with the virus. It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, typically in a close setting.

Anyone who has had contact with someone with a monkeypox-like rash, or who has had contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, is at high risk for infection.

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