WHO removes distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries in its data on monkeypox

In order to unify the response to the virus, the World Health Organization says it has removed the distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries in its data on monkeypox.

42 countries have reported 2,103 confirmed cases of monkeypox between January 1 and June 15 to the Geneva-based organisation.

According to data published by WHO, 84 per cent of confirmed cases of monkeypox are largely centered in Europe.

On June 23, WHO will hold an emergency meeting to determine whether to classify the global monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, which is the highest alarm it can sound.

Exploring the possibility that the disease could be sexually transmitted, the UN health agency is looking into reports that the monkeypox virus is present in the semen of patients.

It comes after scientists detected viral DNA in the semen of a handful of monkeypox patients in Italy and Germany.

Also see | Monkeypox outbreaks: A list of countries that recorded cases recently. Will it be like COVID-19 pandemic?

Catherine Smallwood, monkeypox incident manager at WHO/Europe, said in a press briefing, “It doesn’t change our assessment of the current transmission routes that we’re seeing at the moment, which are very much largely based on very close physical proximity between individuals, skin to skin contact, skin to mouth and that’s really what’s driving the transmission at the moment.”

Although initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that current cases do not always present flu-like symptoms. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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