The World Health Organization on Thursday said there were 80 cases of monkeypox confirmed (and 50 infections being investigated) in 11 countries and warned that more cases are likely to be reported.
Infections have been confirmed in nine European countries, as well as the Canada, the United States and Australia, raising concerns of an outbreak.
In North America, the WHO said that another 50 suspected cases are being investigated – without naming any countries.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a most commonly disease reported in remote parts of Central and West Africa caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Although it is much less severe and experts say chances of infection are low.
According to the UK’s National Health Service, it is a rare viral infection which is usually mild and from which most people recover within few weeks. And the virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the wider public is said to be very low.
There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox yet. However, smallpox jab offers 85% protection since the two viruses are of the same family.
Meanwhile, public health agencies in Europe have confirmed cases in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.
The WHO, in a statement on Friday, said that the recent outbreaks “are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries”.
It said it was working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance “to find and support people who may be affected”.