Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive and negative” are seen on this illustration taken May 23, 2022.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped up its monkeypox guidance, urging travelers to take extra precautions including wearing face masks as global cases of the virus surpass 1,000.
The CDC ramped up its alert to a level 2 on Monday, encouraging people to “practice enhanced precautions” to stem the outbreak, which has spread to 29 nonendemic countries prior to now month. The best level alert — level 3 — would caution against nonessential travel.
While the general public health body said the danger to most of the people stays low, the heightened alert encourages people to avoid close contact with sick people, including those with skin or genital lesions, in addition to sick or dead animals. It also urges those displaying symptoms of the virus, corresponding to an unexplained skin rash or lesions, to avoid contact with others and to succeed in out to their health-care provider for guidance.
Monkeypox is a rare disease attributable to infection with the monkeypox virus, with symptoms including rashes, fever, headaches, muscle ache, swelling and backpain.
It is usually endemic to Central and West African countries, however the recent outbreak across North America, Europe and Australia has confounded health professionals and raised fears of community spread.
As of Monday, 1,019 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported in 29 countries, in keeping with the CDC. The U.K. has recorded essentially the most cases by far, with 302 suspected and confirmed infections. It’s followed by Spain with 198, Portugal with 153 and Canada with 80.
Health experts have been looking for clues as to the source of the outbreak, which has historically been linked to travel from endemic countries. The World Health Organization’s technical lead for monkeypox said Wednesday that the virus might have been transmitting undetected inside nonendemic countries for “weeks, months or possibly a few years.”
Until recently, the present outbreak was thought to have derived from the West African strain of the virus, which produces less severe illness than other variants and has a 1% fatality rate.
Nonetheless, the CDC said Friday that a minimum of two genetically distinct monkeypox variants are currently circulating in U.S., adding to health experts’ confusion. The U.S. has up to now reported 30 cases of the virus in total.
“While they’re just like one another, their genetic evaluation shows that they are not linked to one another,” Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s high consequence pathogens and pathology division, said of the 2 variants at a Friday press briefing.
McQuiston said it is probably going that the 2 strains stem from two different instances where the virus has spilled over from animals to humans in Africa, before spreading via person-to-person contact.
Professor Eyal Leshem, infectious disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, told CNBC on Monday that the spread of the virus to nonendemic countries was unsurprising given the frequency and ease of international travel, in addition to the increased interaction between humans and animals.
CNBC Health & Science
Read CNBC’s latest global coverage of the Covid pandemic:
“Diseases that were locally spread are actually in a position to make their way across countries and continents rather more easily,” Leshem said.
“Meanwhile, interaction between humans and animals has also amplified. Climate change has forced some animals into closer contact with humans, you will notice more of a lot of these diseases,” he added.
Though most cases of monkeypox are mild, typically resolving inside two to 4 weeks, the U.S. said Monday that it has 36,000 doses of an acceptable vaccine which it’s sending to individuals who have had high-risk exposures to the virus. Some European countries, including the U.K. and Spain, have announced similar measures to stem the spread of the disease.
Monkeypox shouldn’t be considered a sexually transmitted disease, though nearly all of cases up to now have spread via sex, and particularly men who’ve sex with men, in keeping with the CDC.