The World Health Organization says more than 6,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 58 countries, with over 80% of the cases in Europe.
The WHO was expected to determine whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, the highest level of alert, later this month, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference from Geneva Wednesday.
“I continue to be concerned by the scale and spread of the virus across the world,” Tedros said, adding that because of a lack of testing, many cases are being unreported.
The viral infection, which is endemic in Africa, is normally mild and similar to the flu, but can cause skin lesions. The current outbreak began in May. It is unclear what the fatality rate of the current strain is, but previous strains have been about 1%.
Most cases of the virus have been in 21- to 40-year-old males, many of whom have sex with other men, said Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe in a Friday statement.
But he added that “small numbers of cases have also now been reported among household members, heterosexual contacts, and nonsexual contacts, as well as among children.”
There have been no reported deaths from monkeypox in the U.S., The Associated Press reported.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.