Jun 15, 2022 - Health

Monkeypox outbreak "poses a real risk" to public health, WHO says

The word Monkeypox is seen on the screen of a smartphone.

The word Monkeypox is seen on a smartphone. Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The monkeypox outbreak "poses a real risk" to public health, said the World Health Organization's European chief Wednesday.

Driving the news: "The magnitude of this outbreak poses a real risk; the longer the virus circulates, the more it will extend its reach, and the stronger the disease’s foothold will get in non-endemic countries," said Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, in a statement.

  • Kluge said governments, health officials and general society "need to act with urgency" in order to control the outbreak.

Details: Kluge listed three steps that could slow the spread of monkeypox, which has infected at least 1,600 people across 39 countries this year.

  • Countries should conduct contact tracing, testing and sequencing to identify new cases, Kluge said.
  • Society can work to stop human-to-human transmission by raising awareness of monkeypox, he said. Mass events shouldn't be canceled, but used as opportunities to share information about the virus.
  • Kluge said countries must collaborate on treatments, vaccines and information about the virus.

The big picture: WHO announced it will convene an emergency meeting on June 23 to decide whether or not the current outbreak constitutes a public health emergency, the Associated Press reports.

  • "We don't want to wait until the situation is out of control," said WHO director Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, per AP.
  • The organization is also looking to change the name of the virus due to concerns it can stoke racism and stigma, Axios' Shawna Chen writes.
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