Senior Advisor by World Health Organization said the monkey outbreak seems to be spread through sexual contact, and warned that the number of cases could increase in the summer months when people attend major summer gatherings and festivals.
David Hayman, chairman of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential, chaired a meeting of the group on Friday “due to the urgency of the situation.”
Heyman told Reuters that the WHO is working on a theory that the cases identified so far have been caused by sexual contact.
“It seems that what is happening now is that it has entered the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is spreading like sexually transmitted infections, which has increased its transmission around the world,” Heyman said.
Hayman, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said experts are likely to give more recommendations to countries in the coming days. Health officials in a number of countries warn that the number of cases may increase over the summer.
Heyman said the outbreak of monkeypox did not resemble the early days of Covid because it is not so easily transmitted. “There are vaccines, but the most important message: you can protect yourself,” he said.
The warning comes as a New York Health officials said a city resident had tested positive for the virus that causes monkeypox, and federal disease control centers are conducting an investigation to determine if a rare disease really exists.
Officials view the case as positive, and they have placed the patient – whose identity has not been revealed – in isolation as they await final confirmation of the test results from the CDC.
The report came a day after New York City authorities said they were investigating two possible cases. One such potential case in the city has been ruled out, the state health department said.
Urban epidemiologists have begun contacting people who may have been exposed to a person infected with Orthopoxvirus, a family of viruses that includes monkeypox. State and city officials said they would try to determine how the patient from New York became infected.
The virus is derived from wild animals, including rodents and primates, but can occasionally be transmitted to humans – most of these cases are found in central and western Africa. The first known human infection dates back to 1970, when a nine-year-old boy in a remote part of DR Congo was diagnosed with a virus that can cause fever, body aches, chills and fatigue.
People with severe illnesses may also have rashes and purulent lesions on the face, hands and other parts of the body.
The virus is not easily spread among humans, although officials said the transmission could be through contact with body fluids, monkey wounds, fluid-contaminated objects or wounds such as clothing and bedding, or through respiratory drops after prolonged face-to-face contact.
The apparent infection in New York came after the WHO found about 80 cases worldwide along with about 50 other suspects. The WHO warns that more cases are likely to occur.
Infections have been confirmed in nine European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Massachusetts health officials confirmed the first case on Wednesday. State officials said the patient had recently traveled to Canada.
“The current patient now poses no risk to public health,” Dr. Paul Bidinger, director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Thursday. “People should just know about the symptoms, but by no means be afraid.”
Cases of monkeypox periodically show in the United States. Last year, Texas and Maryland reported cases in people who recently traveled to Nigeria. In 2003, an outbreak occurred in six states, infecting 47 people.
“The monkey virus is not a monkey,” said Matt Aliot, head of the department University of Minnesota Zoo Viral Infections Programtold Kare11 in Minnesota last week. “Originally he was isolated from a monkey, but monkeys are not natural hosts.
“It’s a virus that naturally infects small rodents and can then jump to humans through scratching or hunting and handling meat.”
In recent days, clinicians have been advised to treat patients with related symptoms as a “possible diagnosis” and to contact the state health department or the CDC Emergency Center “as soon as monkeypox is suspected”.
Also gives advice infection control information to health care providers.
Health officials have also noted that monkeypox is harder to transmit – and therefore easier to contain – than the coronavirus.
According to the CDC, people who have been exposed to monkeypox, which has a slow incubation period, can be given smallpox vaccines that are already in circulation to curb the severity of the disease.