Monkeypox is an evolving health threat: WHO issues fresh guidelines

With monkeypox cases rising globally, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that ‘it is an evolving health threat.’ And to stop the further spread of the virus, WHO has issued a series of guidance and recommendations for governments, health professionals and the public, especially while organising public gatherings. So far, over 4000 cases have been identified in more than 50 countries.

Speaking about the risks associated with the virus, WHO said, “Key transmission routes include skin-to-skin, mouth-to mouth and mouth-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Transmission can also occur through skin-to-skin contact not related to sexual practices, face-to-face contact via respiratory droplets and from contaminated surfaces or material.”

Here are the WHO recommendations:

  • Health authorities are invited to identify those events in their jurisdiction that are most likely to be associated with risk of monkeypox virus transmission, based on the prevailing modes of transmission and the likely profile of the attendees; ensure that monkeypox is included among the diseases regularly reported through routine surveillance; WHO has published guidance on surveillance, case investigation and contact tracing for monkeypox; make provision to ensure prompt isolation and adequate clinical management of identified cases; WHO has published guidance in this regard; keep the general population and event organizer informed on the evolution of the outbreak, and adequately monitor and address rumours and misinformation about monkeypox.
  • Event organizers should establish a liaison with the relevant health authorities and be aware of the epidemiology of monkeypox in the host area.
  • Gatherings should be used as opportunities for information outreach and for risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) activities; these should also target individual behaviours associated with side gatherings, unplanned congregation, and unstructured socialization in public or private spaces.
  • Health authorities and event organizers should facilitate the adoption of appropriate public health and social measures, including those aimed at infection prevention and control, to decrease the risk of transmission of monkeypox virus in conjunction with the event.

Earlier today, WHO pointed out “sustained transmission” of monkeypox worldwide could see the virus begin to move into high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised people and children.

WHO said on Wednesday it was investigating reports of infected children, including two cases in Britain, as well as following up reports in Spain and France. None of the cases in children have been severe.

“I’m concerned about sustained transmission because it would suggest that the virus (is) establishing itself and it could move into high risk groups including children, the immunocompromised and pregnant women,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an online briefing from Geneva on Wednesday.

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