- The WHO said it’s not concerned about a monkeypox pandemic ‘at the moment.’
- WHO officials said they think the outbreak is still containable at this stage.
- However, they warned “the situation is evolving and changing very rapidly.”
The World Health Organization has said the monkeypox outbreak is unlikely to lead to a global pandemic, but that it was too soon to rule it out completely.
Sylvie Briand, the WHO’s director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, and Rosamund Lewis, a monkeypox expert and technical officer at WHO’s headquarters, made the comments during an online briefing on Monday.
Lewis said about the chance of a monkeypox pandemic: “We don’t know, but we don’t think so.”
“At the moment we are not concerned of a global pandemic,” she said. “But we don’t have the answers to this question yet.”
Briand said that “there are still many unknowns” about the spread of monkeypox and that “the situation is evolving and changing very rapidly.”
Briand said monkeypox did not pose the same risk as Covid-19 because it was not as transmissible and “it is a disease we know already.”
“What we are seeing right now is a very unusual situation,” she added. “But we still think this outbreak is containable.”
Monkeypox is a rare disease that can cause painful, infectious boils. The virus usually appears in Central or West Africa but has suddenly started spreading in more countries.
Officials have expressed concern about the spread of monkeypox that has not been linked to travel to endemic countries. The UK had identified 179 cases of monkeypox as of Monday while the US has reported 15 cases of the disease.
“Most of the new cases of monkeypox however are now being reported in non-endemic countries,” Lewis said. “Most of the cases know that we have do not have any links to travel.”
Monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to the one that causes smallpox, a disease that was eradicated more than 40 years ago. Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and chills. A rash later appears and the illness usually lasts between two and four weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people with these symptoms to contact their healthcare provider.