WHO meeting on monkeypox, a possible global health emergency

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The World Health Organization (WHO) will meet on Thursday to discuss the monkeypox virus outbreak and decide whether it warrants declaring a global health emergency.

With thousands of cases reported in dozens of countries around the world, the announcement would mean that the United Nations health agency considers the spread of the disease an “extraordinary event” with the risk of further transmission.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the outbreak “unusual and alarming”.

In Africa, where monkeypox is endemic it has disgusted people in some countries for decades, with one version killing up to 10% of those infected.

Dr.  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks after his re-election at the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2022.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks after his re-election at the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2022.
(REUTERS/Denis Balibuz)

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However, no deaths have been reported outside of Africa, and scientists have yet to find any major genetic changes in the virus.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are now more than 150 confirmed cases of monkeypox and orthopoxvirus.

This 2003 electron microscope image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows oval-shaped mature monkeypox virions (left) and spherical immature virions (right) obtained from a human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

This 2003 electron microscope image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows oval-shaped mature monkeypox virions (left) and spherical immature virions (right) obtained from a human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.
(Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)

Forty of these cases are in California, 22 in New York, 19 in Illinois and 16 in Florida.

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Although most new cases of monkeypox been seen in gay or bisexual men, experts warn that anyone is at potential risk.

This photo, taken March 5, 2021, shows the sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the entrance to its headquarters in Geneva.

This photo, taken March 5, 2021, shows the sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the entrance to its headquarters in Geneva.
(FABRIS COFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Usually people become infected with the monkeypox virus by contact with skin lesions or body fluids of infected animals or humans, or by contact with materials contaminated with the virus.

Smallpox associated monkeypox has milder symptoms.

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Some of these symptoms include fever, chills, rash, and pain before lesions develop.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.