July 23, 2022 -- With the number of monkeypox cases rapidly growing worldwide, the World Health Organization now says the disease should be considered a global public health emergency.
WHO hasn’t declared a global health emergency since January 2020, when it responded to the growth of COVID cases. Two months later, WHO took the next step and declared a COVID pandemic.
The declaration means WHO, a United Nations agency, thinks monkeypox is such a threat that it needs a coordinated international response to prevent it from becoming a pandemic, CNBC said. However, WHO only has the power to recommend actions by member states, not mandate actions, CNBC said.
In late June, WHO said that the monkeypox cases should be watched closely but did not warrant being declared a global public health emergency. Then number of confirmed infections rose 77% from late June through early July, CNBC reported, citing WHO data.
Monkeypox has been endemic in Western and Central Africa for years, but the smallpox-like infections started being confirmed his spring in Europe and the United States, where they normally didn’t occur.
More than 14,000 cases have been identified around the world, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Five people in Africa have died. In the United Kingdom, more than 2,100 cases have been identified.
In the United States, more than 2,891 confirmed monkeypox cases have been detected, with cases reported in all but six states, the CDC said Friday.
The large majority of cases in the West have occurred in urban areas and involve men who’s had sexual contact with other men, health authorities have said. Many of the early infections in the West occurred in people who’d recently traveled to Africa.