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Europe: WHO supporting countries affected by rare monkeypox outbreak

Baku, May 21, AZERTAC

The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with countries where cases of the rare viral disease monkeypox have been reported, the UN agency said on Friday, according to the official website of the organization.

The UN agency said in a statement that there were around 80 cases confirmed so far, across 11 countries, with a further 50 cases pending investigation.

Monkeypox occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but outbreaks have emerged in other parts of the world in recent days. Symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

WHO said it was "working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease."

The UN health agency stressed that monkeypox spreads differently from COVID-19, encouraging all people "to stay informed from reliable sources, such as national health authorities" on the extent of any outbreak in their own communities.

WHO said in an earlier news release at least eight countries are affected in Europe - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Hans Kluge, Europe Regional Director for the UN agency, said the cases are atypical, citing three reasons.

All but one, are not linked to travel to endemic countries. Many were detected through sexual health services and are among men who have sex with men. Furthermore, it is suspected that transmission may have been ongoing for some time, as the cases are geographically dispersed across Europe and beyond.

Most of the cases are so far mild, he added.

“Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting illness, and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment,” said Dr. Kluge. “However, the disease can be more severe, especially in young children, pregnant women, and individuals who are immunocompromised.”

Australia, Canada, and the United States are also among non-endemic countries that have reported cases of monkeypox.

The US detected its first case for the year after a man in the northeastern state of Massachusetts tested positive on Tuesday following recent travel to Canada.

Health authorities in New York City, home to UN Headquarters, are also investigating a possible case after a patient at a hospital tested positive on Thursday.

The US recorded two monkeypox cases in 2021, both related to travel from Nigeria.

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