World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
- The classification is the highest alert that the WHO can issue and follows a worldwide upsurge in cases.
- WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 16,000 cases have now been reported from 75 countries. There have been five deaths so far as a result of the outbreak.
- There are only two other such health emergencies at present – the coronavirus pandemic and the continuing effort to eradicate polio.
What is monkeypox?
- The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus, which causes smallpox, and vaccinia virus, which was used in the smallpox vaccine.
- Monkeypox causes symptoms similar to smallpox, although they are less severe.
- While vaccination eradicated smallpox worldwide in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in a swathe of countries in Central and West Africa, and has on occasion showed up elsewhere.
Where is it more prevalent?
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two distinct clade are identified: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade, also known as the Central African clade.
- Monkeypox is a zoonosis, that is, a disease that is transmitted from infected animals to humans.
- Cases occur close to tropical rainforests inhabited by animals that carry the virus. Monkeypox virus infection has been detected in squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and some species of monkeys.
Human-to-human transmission is, however, limited. Transmission, when it occurs, can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.