WHO declares monkeypox a global emergency

Tags: International News

The World Health Organisation has declared the global monkeypox outbreak a 'Public Health Emergency of International Concern' (PHEIC), one step below the 'pandemic'.

Important facts

  • According to WHO, PHEIC constitutes an exceptional event, which constitutes a public health risk to other countries through international spread, and which potentially requires a coordinated international response.

  • On January 30, 2020, WHO had categorised COVID-19 as a PHEIC, when about 7,500 cases of novel coronavirus were reported. 

  • On 11 March that year, the WHO declared it a 'pandemic'.

  • At present, more than 16 thousand cases of monkeypox have been registered in 75 countries and five deaths have been confirmed.

  • The WHO estimates that the risk of monkeypox is moderate in the world and in all regions, but the risk is highest in Europe.

  • According to the WHO, 99 percent of monkeypox cases found outside Africa are related to men, in which 98 percent of the patients are men who are gay.

Criteria on the basis of which WHO declares PHEIC

  • It is declared in the event of certain "serious public health events" that could endanger international public health.

  • The responsibility of declaring an event as an emergency rests with the Director-General of the WHO and requires the convening of a committee of members.

  • Declaring a PHEIC may result in restrictions on travel and trade.

What Is Monkeypox?

  • It is a viral zoonotic disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. 

  • Monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus similar to smallpox.

  • It has been identified as a smallpox-like disease in monkeys, hence it is called monkeypox.

  • It was first observed in 1958, in monkeys in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and in humans in 1970.

  • The disease outbreak in Nigeria in 2017 was the largest ever.

  • The monkeypox virus mutates at a high rate but is treatable once symptoms appear.

Symptom of disease

  • Fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions.

  • Infected people develop a rash resembling smallpox.

  • In the early stages of the disease, monkeypox and smallpox can be differentiated because the monkeypox lymph gland enlarges.

Transmission of disease

  • It spreads through close face to face, skin to skin and direct contact.

  • The disease can be spread through contact with bodily fluids, sores on the skin or internal mucous surfaces, such as the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.

  • Treatment and Vaccine

  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for monkeypox infection.

  • The anti-smallpox vaccine has been shown to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

  • A newer vaccine MVA-BN, developed for Smallpox was approved in 2019 for use in preventing Monkeypox but is not yet widely available.

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