While the disease continues to be most prominent among members of the gay men’s community, it is now spreading through “new modes of transmission” that the medical community does not fully understand.
The World Health Organization activated its highest alert level for monkeypox as the current outbreak continues to escalate beyond what’s normally expected.
According to CNBC:
The rare designation means the WHO now views the outbreak as a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” Tedros said. “For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
The current monkeypox outbreak is highly unusual because it is spreading widely in North American and European nations where the virus is not usually found. Historically, monkeypox has spread at low levels in remote parts of West and Central Africa where rodents and other animals carried the virus.
Europe is currently the global epicenter of the outbreak, reporting more than 80% of confirmed infections worldwide in 2022. The U.S. has reported more than 2,500 monkeypox cases so far across 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
The CDC has also confirmed two cases of monkeypox in children that are “likely the result of household transmission”. Both children are doing well, but those under eight years old are at an “especially increased risk” for severe monkeypox disease.