Over 50,000 cases of monkeypox worldwide

More than 50,000 cases of monkeypox have been recorded since the start of an outbreak in May, mainly affecting North America and Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

According to the organization’s dashboard that lists all confirmed cases, there were 50,496 cases and 16 deaths as of August 31 in 101 countries and territories.

A slowdown in infections

In the United States as in Europe, the number of infections seems to be slowing down and only 52 territories have declared new cases over the last seven days. “These signs confirm what we have said time and time again from the start: with the right measures, this outbreak can be stopped,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He noted that several countries on the American continent were still seeing the number of cases increase but was pleased “to see a continuing downward trend in Canada”. US health authorities also reported a slight slowdown on Wednesday.

In Europe, Dr. Tedros highlighted the good results obtained in Germany and the Netherlands. Outside Africa, where the disease is endemic in a number of countries, the disease mainly affects men who have sex with men.

Ever-increasing vigilance

To eliminate the circulation of the virus, the WHO recommends maintaining surveillance measures, targeted vaccination, identification of contact cases and engagement with men who have sex with men, recommending in particular to limit the number of sexual partners.

Rosamund Lewis, in charge of monkeypox at the WHO, explained that any physical contact with a sick person runs the risk of contracting the disease. Direct skin-to-skin contact but also infected sheets or clothing are vectors of transmission of the disease.

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Dr Lewis pointed out that no cases of transmission through blood transfusion had been reported, but said DNA from the virus had been found in semen. The disease always presents with an attack of fever, sometimes accompanied by muscle pain, and lesions on the body, which then turn into scabs.

Avoid any stigma

But according to several recent studies, certain physical manifestations of recent patients appear to be associated with contamination during sexual intercourse. In each study, the lesions are often concentrated on the anus, penis and mouth.

The WHO also strongly emphasizes the need to avoid any stigmatization of a specific community, which could lead its members to hide the disease, not seek treatment and continue to spread it.

The organization had triggered its highest level of alert on July 24 to try to prevent the epidemic from gaining even more momentum and settling in permanently. “We don’t have to live with monkeypox,” if the right steps are taken, Dr. Tedros said.

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