July 27, 2022: -According to an infectious disease epidemiologist, there are serious concerns that the U.S. and different countries are not doing enough to keep monkeypox from evolving into a large-scale global outbreak.
Over the weekend, the World Health Organization activated its highest alert level for the virus, labeling monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.
The rare designation meant the WHO viewed the outbreak as a significant threat to global health and that a coordinated international response was required to prevent the virus from potentially escalating into a pandemic.
“This is a unique outbreak where we know this virus, but it’s causing a huge outbreak in several countries worldwide. If we glance at case counts, the United States is trailing behind Spain in the number of cases,” Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the particular pathogens program at New York City Health + Hospitals, told CNBC on Monday.
“It’s not an outbreak to take lightly. What is a massive concern is that it becomes an ancestral virus in the United States and other countries that this virus is not endemic to,” she added.
Madad said, “it is unacceptable,” especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic, for countries struggling to contain the spread of monkeypox.
“Having all the lessons discovered with Covid-19, we should not be dealing with an outbreak of this scale and are not doing enough to ensure that this does not become endemic,” she added.
Although the WHO declaration does not impose requirements on national governments, it is an urgent call for action.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said monkeypox could spread through respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face interaction or intimate physical contact. The virus can spread through contact with bodily fluids, skin lesions, and tainted items like bedsheets and clothing.
Over 16,000 cases have been reported across over 70 countries this year, and the number of established infections grew 77% from late June through early July, according to WHO data.
Madad said while men who have intercourse with men are at the highest risk of infection, the virus is beginning to spread to a broader community.
“For example, in the United States, two children contracted monkeypox through the household transmission of someone with monkeypox. We know those cases may increase over time as more transmissions are happening in the community,” she said.