It may be too early to say whether the recent monkeypox outbreak, which has spread to 24 nations with over 435 confirmed cases, could lead to a global pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
The global health body, however, noted that there is a “window” of opportunity to curb rising cases, CNBC reported.
According to the WHO, there are “still many unknowns” related to the spike in cases in non-endemic countries outside of Africa.
It said the virus should not be mistaken for Covid-19 and that the risks to the general public remain low, the report said.
“We don’t want people to panic or be afraid and think that it’s like Covid or maybe worse,” Sylvie Briand, the WHO’s director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, said during a briefing on the outbreak.
“This monkeypox disease is not Covid-19, it is a different virus,” she added.
While health experts are not clear about the genetic makeup of the virus, current data suggests that it doesn’t transmit or mutate as easily as other viruses like Covid-19, an RNA virus.
“At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, Rosamund Lewis, was quoted as saying.
However, she noted that rising individual cases were a cause for concern as it could allow the virus to “exploit a niche” and transmit more easily between people.
The virus has for the first time manifested in gay and bisexual men.
Though the virus is not defined as a sexually transmitted disease, Lewis urged men who have sex with other men to be aware.
“Collectively, the world has an opportunity to stop this outbreak. There is a window,” Lewis said.