The World Health Organization said the monkeypox virus might have spread for years undetected.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the sudden simultaneous monkeypox cases across countries suggested the virus had spread for some time.
Ghebreyesus said more than 550 cases from 30 countries had been confirmed and reported to WHO.
Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, noted that the European region had remained the epicenter of the virus outside the endemic areas in western and central Africa.
Kluge said that WHO investigations in Europe showed that the virus had been spreading as early as mid-April.
Reported monkeypox cases have been seen among men who have had sex with men. Kluge said that monkeypox data in Europe showed that the virus could be transmitted through sexual activities but not limited to such.
“Anyone can be infected with monkeypox if they have close physical contact with someone else who is infected,” said Ghebreyesus.
Kluge said that transmission in Europe increased amid the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. He added that the region could expect a high transmission over the summer.
Ghebreyesus said that WHO has prioritized providing accurate information about the virus. He added that the organizations would also work on preventing the virus from high-risk groups, protecting frontline health workers, and advancing the understanding of the monkeypox virus.
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