The current outbreak of cases of smallpox in some 30 countries outside the endemic areas, the virus has been under the radar for some time, the World Health Organization (WHO) said at a news conference on Wednesday. “The sudden appearance of smallpox in different countries at the same time suggests that the transmission has not been detected for some time,” said its director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
More than 550 cases in 30 countries – where the disease is not endemic and very rare – have been reported to WHO since the onset of the current case outbreak nearly a month ago. The arrival in France and in Europe but also in North America and the Middle East in particular of a disease usually present in Africa There has been a surge of concern in recent weeks, with fears of a new pandemic following the Covid-19.
“This is an outburst of cases, which can be stopped.”
“WHO urges affected countries to expand their surveillance and to detect cases in their communities in the broadest sense,” said Dr. Tedros, recalling that anyone could be infected with the virus in case of close contact with a patient. So far, most cases have been reported concern “men who have sex with men”said the WHO director.
While the UN health agency expects an increase in the number of cases, there is no question of a new pandemic. “This is a case of outbreaks, and cases of outbreaks can be stopped,” said Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s chief technical officer for monkeypox. illness was “a source of concern.” »
Although the current wave of cases has not yet killed, the smallpox virus has been killing the African continent every year for half a century. The virus is similar to that of human smallpox, which has been eradicated since the 1980s, when vaccination campaigns against the disease ceased.
The ensuing decline in immunity in the population could explain the current increase in cases, according to the WHO. However, mass vaccination with the smallpox vaccine, which grants partial immunity to monkeypox but currently has limited stocks, is not on the agenda.