The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised its highest level of alarm for monkeypox by declaring it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (USPPI). The virus has spread to nearly 70 countries, including India, where four cases have been reported so far.
Now, as part of its Science in 5 series for monkeypox on YouTube, the WHO has explained which communities are at higher risk of contracting the virus and why.
According to Andy Seale, Advisor, HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes, WHO, communities of various backgrounds and ages are affected by monkeypox in previously affected countries that are largely in West Africa.
Mr Seale added that in countries newly affected by the monkeypox virus, cases are “largely concentrated in men”. According to Seale, most people infected with the virus are men who have sex with men and who identify as gay and bisexual.
The adviser added that some cases have also been reported in children and women, but these are limited. However, Mr Seale stressed that anyone who comes into contact with the virus can become infected.
Explaining the reason for the greater vulnerability of the particular community, Mr Seale said there are several modes of transmission of the virus. These include skin-to-skin contact, kissing, or contact with infected materials like bed linen. “What we know and what the evidence tells us is that sexual networks within communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have played a role in the transmission of the virus in the context of this outbreak,” Seale added.
He added that international travel appeared to have contributed to the spread of the monkeypox virus in the early days of the outbreak.
Here is the video:
Mr Seale further called for not stigmatizing or blaming any particular community for the spread of the disease. He added that for most monkeypox patients, the infection will be short-lived and mild while it can also be severe for some who may require hospitalization.
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