What would it mean if it becomes an international emergency?
(CNN) — As monkeypox cases rise around the world, the World Health Organization plans to reassess whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
In late June, the WHO Emergency Committee determined that the outbreak did not meet the criteria for such statement.
But as the virus continues to spread, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants the committee to pick up the issue, based on the latest data on the epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak.
Tedros said on July 6 that he would convene the committee during the week of July 18, or sooner if necessary.
The WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “risk to the public health of other States through the international spread of disease” and that “may potentially require a response coordinated international
“On monkeypox, I remain concerned about the scale and spread of the virus. Worldwide, more than 6,000 cases have now been recorded in 58 countries,” Tedros said.
“Testing remains a challenge, and it is very likely that there will be a significant number of cases that are not resolved,” he added. “Europe is the current epicenter of the outbreak, recording more than 80% of cases globally.”
Monkeypox, a viral disease, occurs mainly in central and western Africa, where the virus is endemic, but as part of the most recent outbreak, the virus has spread to many regions of the world where it is not normally seen.
Cases are also being reported in African countries previously unaffected by the virus, and record numbers are being reported in places where the virus is endemic, Tedros said. WHO teams are closely monitoring the data, he said.
WHO is working with countries and vaccine manufacturers to coordinate the sharing of monkeypox vaccines, which are in short supply. The organization also works with groups to break down the stigma around the virus and spread information to help protect people.
“I want to particularly congratulate those who share videos online through social media channels, talking about their symptoms and experiences with monkeypox,” he said. “This is a positive way to break the stigma around a virus that can affect anyone.”
Early data on the outbreak has suggested that gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a large number of reported cases, raising concerns about stigmatization of the disease and the LGBTQ community.
However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus may be at risk.
How the virus spreads and what are its symptoms
The monkeypox virus can be spread from person to person through direct contact with infectious body fluids or through the rash, scabs, and sores that the disease can cause. Spread can also occur through indirect contact, such as through clothing or bedding contaminated with the virus.
It can also be spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, fondling, or sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a skin rash that may look like pimples or blisters.
The rash goes through different stages, turning into pustules before healing.
Some 41,500 cycles of vaccine distributed in the US.
About 41,500 cycles of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine have been distributed in states and other jurisdictions in the United States, according to data released July 6 by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
A Jynneos cycle involves two doses four weeks apart.
The Biden administration announced last week that the strategy for distributing monkeypox vaccines would focus on areas with the highest case rates and overall risk. The District of Columbia has by far the most reported cases per capita and has received the most vaccine doses per capita, new HHS data shows.
‘You don’t want this’ virus: California man with monkeypox urges others to get vaccinated
Vaccine distribution has also been largely concentrated in California, Illinois, and New York, particularly in the three largest US cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Massachusetts, Hawaii and Colorado have also received a large share of the vaccine distribution to date.
Eleven states have not received any monkeypox vaccine, according to the data; none of them have reported any cases to the CDC.
Monkeypox Testing on the Rise in US
Efforts are also underway to ramp up testing for the virus in the U.S. Commercial laboratory company Labcorp will begin testing for monkeypox on Wednesday at its largest facility in the United States, doubling the nation’s capacity to test for the virus. virus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC announced Wednesday that Labcorp will be able to accept samples for testing from anywhere in the United States, and the company expects to run up to 10,000 tests per week.
The outbreak has led to 605 probable or confirmed cases in the US as of Wednesday (July 6) night. Cases have been reported in 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Three of the cases were non-US residents.
“The ability of commercial laboratories to test for monkeypox is a key pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. “Not only will this increase testing capacity, but it will make it more convenient for providers and patients to access testing by using existing provider-laboratory relationships.”
If someone thinks they might have a monkeypox infection, a provider will need to order a test. “The public will not be able to go to a Labcorp laboratory and submit a sample,” the CDC said in its statement.
The CDC’s Laboratory Response Network has performed most of the monkeypox-specific testing in the US, but on June 22, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that testing of monkeypox would expand to five commercial laboratories: Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, and Sonic Healthcare.
The CDC confirmed Wednesday that it had shipped tests to the labs and that its employees had been trained on how to administer the tests. “CDC anticipates that additional commercial labs will come online and monkeypox testing capacity will continue to increase throughout the month of July.”
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.