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"Monkeypox cases triple in Europe in two weeks" - WHO

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

Monkeypox primarily spreads through close physical contact with a person who is infected or contaminated material such as shared clothing or bedsheets. However, small numbers of cases have now been reported in which the patients did not catch the virus during sexual contact, Kluge said.

Some people with monkeypox symptoms might avoid going to healthcare providers for a diagnosis because they are fearful of consequences if someone finds out they are gay or bisexual, Kluge said. The majority of the patients who provided demographic information identified as men who have sex with men, he said.

Monkeypox is in the same virus family as smallpox, but it has milder symptoms. He said 99% of monkeypox patients in Europe are men between the ages of 21 and 40. The stigmatization of men who have sex with men in some countries has made it difficult to get a full picture of the outbreak, Kluge said. Among patients where information was available on their status, nearly 10% were hospitalized for treatment or isolation and one patient ended up in an intensive care unit, Kluge added.

Kluge said the WHO will likely reconsider whether monkeypox is a global health emergency soon, given the “rapid evolution and emergency nature of the event.”

Kluge said public health authorities in Europe must quickly ramp up surveillance for monkeypox and their capacity to diagnose the disease and sequence samples.

“There is simply no room for complacency – especially right here in the European Region with its fast-moving outbreak that with every hour, day and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas,” Kluge said.

Kluge said the vast majority of patients in Europe had a rash and about three-quarters reported flu-like symptoms.

Public health authorities also need to get the word out among high-risk communities and the wider public about what precautions to take when attending mass gatherings this summer, Kluge said.

“Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” Kluge said.

“We know from our lessons in dealing with HIV how stigma further fuels outbreaks and epidemics, but allowing our fear of creating a stigma to prevent us from acting may be just as damaging,” Kluge said.

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