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Monkeypox cases top 550 worldwide, official says

In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient's hand on June 5, 2003. (CDC/Getty Images/TNS)

The number of monkeypox cases reported worldwide has topped 550, fueling further concern about the viral disease.

Rosamund Lewis, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for monkeypox research, confirmed that cases have been recorded across 30 different countries. She told CNN on Tuesday that the global outbreak is “quite different” than the norm, given that it’s happening simultaneously and in several places at once.

“We’re seeing cases all appearing in a relatively short period of time. We’re seeing that in a few days, in a couple of weeks, we’re seeing over 500 cases,” Lewis said. “This is different. This has not been seen before.”

The latest figure marks a significant spike in numbers previously released over the weekend. On Sunday, WHO reported 257 confirmed cases and around 120 suspected infections spanning 23 countries. On Tuesday, the United Kingdom alone confirmed 190 cases, up from the agency’s Sunday tally, which stood at 106. In the same timeframe, the United States went from 10 to 15 cases.

The global health agency in its weekend updates placed the world’s risk level at moderate, “considering this is the first time that monkeypox cases and clusters are reported concurrently in widely disparate WHO geographical areas, and without known epidemiological links to non-endemic countries in West or Central Africa.”

While the origin of the outbreak remains under investigation, Lewis said many countries still have a “window of opportunity” to curb the spread of the disease. During a press conference on Monday, she also said “we are not concerned of a global pandemic” from monkeypox for the time being.

Still, WHO has issued a stern warning about the disease, nothing that risk could increase if the “virus exploits the opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spreads to groups at higher risk of severe disease such as young children and immunosuppressed persons.”

Symptoms of monkeypox include high fever, headache, muscle aches, and skin lesions, which eventually scab over and fall off. When that occurs, that patient is no longer contagious. It is transmitted through skin contact as well as bodily fluid and typically lasts between two to four weeks. And while it can be deadly, fatalities typically occur in only 1 to 3% of cases.


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