Monkeypox “may be too late to contain and will be difficult to eradicate,” experts say

MONKEYPOX in the UK will be ‘hard to eradicate’, an expert said, as the World Health Organization says it may be ‘too late’.

So far, 190 cases of monkeypox have been detected in the UK, health chiefs say, and 550 worldwide.

Health officials will pursue anyone they fear has monkeypox


Health officials will pursue anyone they fear has monkeypoxPhoto credit: Reuters

Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the outbreak is likely to last for several months.

Health officials will use contact tracing to find more cases of the virus and try to contain it.

But Prof Edmunds, a leading epidemiologist and scientific adviser to the government, said it will be “a lot of work” – but ultimately it is controllable.

Prof Edmunds said the fact that so many infections are “popping up around the world” suggests there “is going to be a problem”.

Monkeypox could infect people better and spread further, scientists warn
British monkeypox infections hit 190 as another 11 people tested positive

“You don’t get rid of it overnight,” he told The Independent.

“It will take a few months of really solid work to track down and eradicate all infections and contacts.

“It’s going to be a while. Public health teams are chasing all these chains of transmission — some of them will be cryptic for all sorts of reasons.

“And the incubation period [the time between infection and symptoms] is quite long – nine or ten days, possibly even longer.

“So the transmission chains are slow, which is good. It gives you time to trace contact. On the other hand, if you miss a few cases, things will simmer for a while.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of cases observed so far could be the “tip of the iceberg”.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the sudden emergence of monkeypox in unlikely countries suggests the virus has been spreading undetected for some time.

While it is endemic in western and central African countries – with 9,000 cases per year – its occurrence elsewhere was unexpected.

dr Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s chief technical officer for monkeypox, told a news conference on Wednesday: “We don’t really know if it’s too late for containment.

“What the WHO and all member states are trying to do is prevent further spread.”

So far, 190 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been identified in the UK from May 6th to 31st.

Monkeypox appears to be spreading from person to person in England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Wednesday.

“The current outbreak is the first time the virus has been transmitted person-to-person in England, where no travel links to an endemic country have been identified,” the agency said.

According to the UKHSA, most cases in the UK – 132 – are in London.

And 111 cases are known to be in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). Only two cases are in women.

Monkeypox can affect anyone, but many of the latest diagnoses come from the GBMSM community.

Many of them live in London or have ties to London, said Kevin Fenton, London’s regional director of public health.

“As with any outbreak of a new disease, the risk of stigma and uncertainty is great,” he said.

Recent trips abroad to a number of different countries in Europe have been reported by 34 confirmed cases, or about 18 percent.
So far, the UKHSA has identified links to gay bars, saunas and the use of dating apps in the UK and abroad.

“Investigations are ongoing, but no single factor or exposure linking the cases has been identified at this time,” the agency warned.

Monkeypox typically causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions that usually go away on their own within weeks but can kill a small proportion of those infected. Monkeypox “may be too late to contain and will be difficult to eradicate,” experts say

Sarah Y. Kim

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