Monkeypox has left its African birthplace, and continues to spread globally. What push the World Health Organization to remove in its statistics the distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries, to better “unify” the response to the virus. “We are removing the distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries, and presenting countries together when possible, to reflect the unified response that is needed,” WHO said in its newsletter of 17 June sent Saturday to the media.
From January 1 to June 15, “a total of 2,103 confirmed cases, one probable case and one death (in Nigeria, editor’s note) were reported to WHO in 42 countries,” she said. On June 23, it will assess whether the current outbreak represents a “public health emergency of international concern”, its highest level of alert. Usually circulating in Central and West Africa, the virus is now present on several continents.
A total of 84% of cases are recorded in Europe
The European region is at the center of the spread of the virus, with 1,773 confirmed cases, or 84% of the global total. Next comes the American continent (245 cases, 12%), followed by Africa (64 cases, 3%) and the regions of the eastern Mediterranean (14 cases) and the western Pacific (7 cases). But the WHO considers it likely that the actual number of cases is higher.
She considers that the virus must have already been circulating before the current outbreak without its transmission being detected. This “could date back to 2017,” she says. Since 2017, a few imported cases, particularly from Nigeria, have indeed been sporadically identified in several countries. In the current outbreak, the majority of reported cases so far are in men who have sex with men. The vast majority, however, had not traveled to African countries where the virus was endemic.