Global health officials push countries to combat monkeypox following public health emergency

By: - July 25, 2022 3:53 pm

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). Credit: WHO.

Following the declaration of the 2022 monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency, global health officials have established temporary recommendations to combat the disease that continues to spread worldwide.

The World Health Organization announced Saturday that the monkeypox virus constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, as cases continue to rise in several countries, the nation and in Florida. The disease can cause a characteristic rash and other symptoms.

WHO defines a PHEIC as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” The organization describes the emergency as “serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected” and “may require immediate international action.”

In Florida, there have been 273 cases across 16 counties, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health. Data show Broward County has the largest number of cases, at 131, followed by 73 cases in Miami-Dade County, 17 in Orange County and 13 in Pinellas County.

Age groups that have seen the most cases are 40-44, with 57 cases in Florida. In addition, 45 cases were detected in the age group of 30-34, followed by 42 in the 35-39 age group.

Nationwide, New York (900) and California (356) continue to see the most cases, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the CDC analysis, Florida would be 247 cases, which rank 3rd of all states.

The CDC has reported 16,593 confirmed cases in 68 “countries that have not historically reported monkeypox.” Overall, 243 cases come from six countries that have historically reported monkeypox.

WHO is directing countries affected by the disease to “implement response actions with the goal of stopping human-to-human transmission of monkeypox virus, with a priority focus on communities at high risk of exposure,” according to a memo on July 23.

It also says that response efforts should protect vulnerable groups, such as immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women and children “who may be at risk of severe monkeypox disease.”

Other health measures recommended in the memo are providing health care and laboratory workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) and the use of “existing or new vaccines against monkeypox within a framework of collaborative clinical efficacy studies.”

WHO also recommends increasing surveillance and public health measures including access to diagnostic testing, isolation of individuals testing positive “for the duration of the infectious period” and conducting contact tracing among individuals who have been in contact with someone with a confirmed or suspected case.

WHO said that most of the cases currently reported “are in males, and most of these cases occur among males who identified themselves as gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), in urban areas, and are clustered in social and sexual networks.”

The memo touches on international travel, warning that individuals experiencing monkeypox symptoms or “being considered a suspect, probable, or confirmed case of monkeypox” and others should not travel, “including international, until they are determined as no longer constituting a public health risk.”

WHO added: “Exemptions include any individual who need to undertake travel to seek urgent medical care or flee from life-threatening situations, such as conflict or natural disasters; and contacts for whom pre-departure arrangements to ensure the continuity of health monitoring are agreed upon by sub-national health authorities concerned, or, in the case of international travel, by national health authorities.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.