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Monkeypox cases in European Region triple over past two weeks - WHO

Updated: Jul 2, 2022

Jul 02, 2022 01:00 am

By Hiral Shah

As per the statement by WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, Monkeypox cases have tripled in the European Region over the past two weeks.

“Today, I am intensifying my call for governments and civil society to scale up efforts in the coming weeks and months to prevent monkeypox from establishing itself across a growing geographical area. Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” wrote Dr Kluge.

The European Region remains at the centre of this expanding outbreak

Although last week the IHR Emergency Committee advised that the outbreak at this stage should be determined to not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the rapid evolution and emergency nature of the event means that the Committee will revisit its position shortly. In the meantime, WHO continues to assess the risk of monkeypox in the European Region as high, given the continued threat to public health and the rapid expansion of the disease, with continued challenges hampering our response, and with additional cases being reported among women and children.

The WHO European Region represents almost 90 percent of all laboratory-confirmed and globally reported cases since mid-May, and since my last statement on 15 June, six new countries and areas - taking the total to 31 - have reported monkeypox cases, with new cases tripling over the same period to over 4,500 laboratory confirmed cases across the Region.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) are issuing weekly joint monkeypox surveillance bulletins, to summarize the situation and share a common regional analysis of this rapidly evolving situation.

Most cases reported so far have been among people between 21 and 40 years of age, and 99% have been male, with the majority of those for whom we have information being men who have sex with men. However, small numbers of cases have also now been reported among household members, heterosexual contacts, and non-sexual contacts as well as among children. Where information is available, close to 10% of patients were reported to have been hospitalized either for treatment or for isolation purposes, and one patient has been admitted to an ICU. Fortunately, no people are reported to have died so far. The vast majority of cases have presented with a rash and about three-quarters have reported systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sore throat or headache.

WHO is grateful to the 26 countries and areas who have submitted detailed information through ECDC and WHO/Europe using The European Surveillance System (TESSy). We need to continue to examine this information carefully over the next few weeks and months, to better understand exposure risks, clinical presentations in different population groups, and - most importantly – to rapidly identify any changes in the trajectory of the outbreak that would affect our public health risk assessment.

“So let me be clear. There is simply no room for complacency – especially right here in the European Region with its fast-moving outbreak that with every hour, day and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas,” conveyed Dr Kluge.

“At WHO/Europe, we are working with governments, our partners at the ECDC, and civil society entities – including summertime Pride and other festival and mass event organizers - to tackle the challenges before us,” he added further.

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