WHO declares international emergency for monkeypox, two children infected in the USA: Yves Van Laethem reacts

Monkeypox was diagnosed this week in two children in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday evening. These are the first two confirmed cases in children in the country. In total, more than 2,800 cases of monkeypox have already been confirmed in the United States.

This is not surprising, because although transmission occurs almost exclusively in the male homosexual world, there is contact with family members, possibly children, and transmission occurs through skin lesions that can be present on the arms or hands. So it’s not strange at all“, reacts Yves Van Laethem, head of clinic in the infectious diseases department at CHU Saint-Pierre.

Symptoms and transmission

Symptoms of monkeypox are usually high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and rashes. Rarely fatal, the infection usually disappears after a few weeks.

Detected in early May, the unusual upsurge in cases of monkeypox, outside the countries of central and western Africa where the virus is endemic, has since spread throughout the world, with Europe as its epicenter. First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than its cousin human smallpox, eradicated in 1980.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of reported cases concern men who have sex with men, but not exclusively. Anyone who has had high-risk unprotected contact with an infected person can also become infected.

This mode of transmission represents both an opportunity to implement targeted public health interventions, and a challenge, because in some countries, affected communities face discrimination that threatens their lives.“, had raised Thursday the doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus before the committee of experts.There is a real concern that men who have sex with men could be stigmatized or blamed for the spike in cases, making it much harder to trace and stop“, he had warned.

WHO raises its highest level of alert

The World Health Organization issued its highest level of alert on Saturday to try to contain the outbreak of monkeypox, which has affected nearly 17,000 people in 74 countries, announced its director general. This is only the 7th time that the WHO has used this level of alert.

I have decided to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern“, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing, specifying that the risk in the world was relatively moderate apart from Europe where it is high.

The qualification “public health emergency of international concern (USPPI)“is used in situations”serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected“. It is defined by the WHO as a “extraordinary event” the propagation of which constitutes a “public health risk in other states“and may require”coordinated international action“.

In Belgium, there are 331 cases, but none in children. “To my knowledge, we have no cases. There was the suspicion of one or the other case, which turned out to be negative during the samples“, specifies Yves Van Laethem.

Rarely fatal, the infection usually disappears after a few weeks.

Queues to get vaccinated in New York

In front of a vaccination center in New York, a long queue extends into the street. It is mainly composed of men between 20 and 40 years old. Those who were able to get an appointment consider themselves lucky. 9,000 slots left in 7 minutes. The city lacks vaccines and concern is mounting. “With supplies limited and the number of cases increasing, the situation is getting worse. People get nervous because they want to get vaccinated“, explains a man who is in line.

The LGBTQ+ community in New York demonstrated two days ago against the US government and its handling of the monkeypox outbreak.

On Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it had approved the use of a human smallpox vaccine to expand its use against the spread of monkeypox. This vaccine is in fact already used for this purpose in several countries, including France.
The Imvanex vaccine, from Danish company Bavarian Nordic, has been approved in the EU since 2013 for the prevention of smallpox.

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