Nearly 200 Monkeypox Cases Reported In More Than 20 Countries: WHO

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Nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries, many of which typically aren't known to have outbreaks of the disease, according to the World Health Organization, who described the epidemic as "containable" via the Associated Press.

The U.N. health agency addressed the recent spread of monkeypox and said it's still undetermined how exactly the current epidemic started, but noted that it's not believed genetic changes in the virus are responsible during a briefing held on Friday (May 27)

“The first sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is not different from the strains we can find in endemic countries and (this outbreak) is probably due more to a change in human behaviour,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of pandemic and epidemic diseases, via the Associated Press.

Earlier in the week, a top WHO adviser said the recent spread could have been linked to sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium.

The disease has since spread throughout Europe, as well as the United States, Israel, Australia and other countries.

The first case of monkeypox in the U.S. for 2022 was reported in Massachusetts on May 18 in an adult male who recently traveled to Canada, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed in a news release.

"Initial testing was completed late Tuesday at the State Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain and confirmatory testing was completed today at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)," the department wrote. "DPH is working closely with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the patient’s health care providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious.

"This contact tracing approach is the most appropriate given the nature and transmission of the virus."

Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that commonly brings flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and is capable of progressing to facial and body rash, with infections usually lasting between 2-to-4 weeks.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the single case does not pose a risk to the general public and confirmed that the individual was hospitalized in good condition.

Monkeypox was last reported in the U.S. in 2021 among people in Texas and Maryland who had returned from a recent trip to Nigeria.

Since May 2022, nine cases of monkeypox have been identified in the United Kingdom, with the initial case having returned from a visit to Nigeria, while the other eight cases hadn't reported recent travel after testing positive.

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