A total of 780 cases of Monkeypox have been reported from 27 non-endemic countries as of June 2, the World Health Organization said on Sunday. No deaths have been reported so far.
A disease is declared endemic when it is constantly present in a region.
Monkeypox is a rare infection that is mainly spread by wild animals like rodents and primates in parts of west or central Africa, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
The disease causes a mild illness and can result in symptoms such as high temperature, headache, backache and a chickenpox-like rash. The infection can spread if a person touches monkeypox skin blisters or uses clothing, bed sheets or towels of those suffering from the disease.
In non-endemic countries, 207 cases have been reported from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, 156 from Spain, and 138 from Portugal between May 13 and June 2, the global health body said.
In seven endemic countries, 1,408 suspected cases of monkeypox, 44 confirmed ones, and 66 deaths from the disease have been reported between January 1 and June 1. The Democratic Republic of Congo reported 58 of the total fatalities.
With an increasing number of cases being reported from non-endemic countries, the World Health Organization has said that the monkeypox outbreak risk is moderate.
The global health body however noted that the actual number of cases is likely an underestimate, due to limited surveillance and lack of available diagnostics in some countries.
“Although the current risk to human health and for the general public remains low, the public health risk could become high if this virus exploits the opportunity to establish itself in non-endemic countries as a widespread human pathogen,” the global health body said.
The cases of monkeypox have been mainly, but not exclusively, identified amongst men who have had sex with other men and sought care in sexual health clinics, according to the World Health Organization. The cases being found in countries with no direct travel links to “an endemic area is atypical”, the global health body said.
Countries with cases that are not appearing among known contacts of patients suggest that transmission links are being missed because of the undetected circulation of the virus, it added.