More than 18000 cases of monkeypox globally, most in Europe: WHO

There have been more than 18 000 cases of monkeypox reported globally from 78 countries, with the majority in Europe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency on Saturday.

So far, 98% of cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, the WHO said.

Its Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged that group to consider reducing numbers of sexual partners and swapping contact details with any new partners.

“This is an outbreak that can be stopped… the best way to do that is to reduce the risk of exposure,” Tedros told a news conference from Geneva. “That means making safe choices for yourself and others.”

The UN agency is recommending vaccination for high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men with multiple sexual partners and healthcare workers.

It cautioned that it takes several weeks after getting the second dose of vaccine to be fully protected, so people should take other precautions until that point.

Around 10% of patients have been hospitalized in the current outbreak and five have died, all of them in Africa, the WHO said.

It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.

Tedros said there were about 16 million doses of approved vaccine available, but only in bulk, so it would take several months to get them into vials.

The WHO is urging countries with stockpiles to share vaccine while supply is constrained, he added.

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