The World Health Organization is reporting that more than 250 cases of monkeypox have been reported in at least 16 countries. Monkeypox is a much less severe cousin of smallpox.
NK Arora is chairman of India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, he explained that while it may not be feared it should also not be taken too lightly.
“So there are two things – one is monkeypox is not as contagious as COVID. Similarly, the disease is also not as severe,” Arora said. “But the important point is that it spreads and it is a matter of concern, and it is likely to have most severe outcomes in those immunocompromised or (who) have other diseases.”
Monkeypox is endemic near tropical rainforests in Central and West Africa, but it has increasingly been seen near urban areas, according to WHO.
“This is an emerging disease,” Rosamund Lewis, head of the smallpox secretariat, WHO Emergencies program, said Tuesday during a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. “It has been emerging for the last 20 to 30 years, (so) it’s not unknown, it’s very well described. The risk for the general public, therefore, appears to be low, because we know that the main modes of transmission have been as described in the past.”
In 2022, the first case of monkeypox in the U.S. was diagnosed in a patient hospitalized in Massachusetts who had recently traveled to Canada via private transportation.
In 2021, two people traveling from Nigeria to the U.S. were diagnosed with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.