Monkeypox cases concentrated among men who have sex with men: WHO

New Delhi: The World Health Organization on Sunday said that the cases of monkeypox virus are concentrated among men who have sex with men....

New Delhi: The World Health Organization on Sunday said that the cases of monkeypox virus are concentrated among men who have sex with men. Expressing concerns over rapidly spreading disease, the first Indian elected as Region Director of WHO, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said that cases are being reported in the countries that have not seen it before.

"Monkeypox has been spreading rapidly and to many countries that have not seen it before, which is a matter of great concern. However, with cases concentrated among men who have sex with men, it is possible to curtail further spread of the disease with focused efforts among at-risk population," Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, said.

Dr Khetrapal further informed that four cases of monkeypox have been reported in the WHO South-East Asia region and three of them are from India, while Thailand has one case.

The monkeypox cases reported in India are among nationals who returned home from the Middle East, while in Thailand an international living in the country has been confirmed positive for monkeypox, WHO said in a statement.

The WHO has called on countries in the South-East Asia region to intensify surveillance and public health measures for monkeypox, with the disease being declared a public health emergency of international concern.

"Globally, over 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported from 75 countries," the global health body said.

The WHO South-East Asia Regional Director in a statement said, "Importantly, our focused efforts and measures should be sensitive, devoid of stigma or discrimination."

"Importantly, our focused efforts and measures should be sensitive, devoid of stigma or discrimination," Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said.

She went on to say that though the risk of monkeypox globally and in the (South-East Asia) Region is moderate, the potential of its further international spread is real. "Also, there are still many unknowns about the virus. We need to stay alert and prepared to roll out intense response to curtail further spread of monkeypox," Dr Khetrapal Singh added.

On Saturday (23 July, 2022), the WHO declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

"I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations," the WHO chief said.

Don't Miss: Monkeypox declared global health emergency by WHO after outbreak in over 70 countries

The announcement to declare monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) was made a day after Tedros convened a meeting of the IHR emergency committee to review the multi-country outbreak.

"I know this has not been an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views among the members" of the committee," the WHO DG added.

How to prevent spread of monkeypox virus?

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, talked about the key measures that need to be scaled-up to restrict the spread of monkeypox virus.

The measures that she highlighted include, engaging and protecting the affected communities; intensifying surveillance and public health measures; strengthening clinical management and infection prevention and control in hospitals and clinics; and accelerating research into the use of vaccines, therapeutics and other tools.

How monkeypox virus is transmitted or spread?

A pertinent question is doing rounds among people about how an individual get infected with monkeypox virus. According to the WHO, the virus is transmitted from infected animals to humans via indirect or direct contact.

Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with infectious skin or lesions, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin, and respiratory droplets. In the current outbreak countries and amongst the reported monkeypox cases, transmission appears to be occurring primarily through close physical contact, including sexual contact.

Transmission can also occur from contaminated materials such as linens, bedding, electronics, clothing, that have infectious skin particles.

With inputs from agencies

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