WHO To Declare Another Global Emergency?
(UnitedVoice.com) – As the US continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, an old but unfamiliar disease is making an appearance in the United States. Monkeypox is on the rise, but US officials aren’t saying how alarming the situation might be in the US. The CDC said the US government doesn’t usually report the disease, and in June, the World Health Organization (WHO) refused to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
A PHEIC is the highest declaration the WHO uses to raise awareness about a spread of a contagious disease. As monkeypox continues to make ground, the international agency said it would reconvene its monkeypox committee on Thursday, July 21, to determine if it should consider declaring the virus a global health emergency. Still, some wonder if the US is about to experience another COVID scenario.
WHO Reconvening Emergency Committee
Media reports say the WHO’s most recent update on monkeypox on Tuesday, July 19, showed the disease spread to 9,200 cases in 63 countries. The CDC reported as of Wednesday, July 20, New York has the most significant number of cases in the United States at 581, followed by Illinois (200 cases) and Florida (180 cases). Per capita, Washington, DC, is experiencing the largest outbreak of the condition at 126 cases.
Monkeypox infection numbers have been rising since early May. Still, the disease has been endemic in West and Central Africa for years. The WHO committee will consider the global spread and determine whether it will recommend a PHEIC to the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who will make the ultimate decision. If so, the committee will also recommend preventative measures.
Still, whatever the international health agency decides is a recommendation to the international community. The United States would have to make its own policies, just as in the COVID-19 pandemic, which each state would likely handle. Yet, the federal government would gather data through the CDC to share with the WHO, an obligation it holds as a member country.
What Is Monkeypox, and How Is It Spread?
Monkeypox is a virus closely related to smallpox. The CDC said the virus spreads primarily through close and intimate contact with an infected person. The WHO noted most cases are among gay and bisexual men in urban areas. Still, it’s not limited to that demographic. In Washington, DC, health experts say 96% of cases are in men, and 82% identify as gay.
The CDC made the following recommendations to avoid contracting monkeypox:
- Don’t touch people with a rash that appears like pimples or blisters occurring on the body or genitals.
- Avoid touching sheets, bath towels, or clothing of a person with recently contracted rashes of unknown origin or anyone diagnosed with the condition.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
If you have been in contact with someone who contracted the virus, health officials say you should vaccinate within 14 days of contact. For those who contract the disease, healthcare authorities recommend isolating at home and staying away from people or pets.
Fortunately, there are no comparisons to COVID-19 as the two diseases spread very differently and have different medical symptoms. Health experts say monkeypox is a minor threat compared to COVID-19.
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