A year ago, the first Monkeypox (Mpox) scare was reported in Europe. Now WHO has warned the EU and Britain of a second wave. Public health officials are concerned that the summer festival season could lead to a surge in the deadly disease.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has warned, “there is [a] risk of an increase in the coming spring and summer season due to festivities and increased holiday travel.”
Based on the warning, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has urged people to get vaccinated before the festival begins. Dr. Katy Sinka, head of sexually transmitted infections at UKHSA, stated, “it’s vital that all those eligible for the vaccine come forward ahead of the summer months to ensure they have maximum protection.”
The WHO has urged European countries to increase their surveillance for Mpox and to be prepared to respond quickly if cases are identified. This includes ensuring that health care workers are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease and having adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.
The organization has also stressed the importance of public education about Mpox, particularly among travelers to areas where the disease is endemic. Travelers to Central and West Africa should be advised to avoid contact with animals, especially monkeys, and rodents. Travelers should also practice good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly with soap and water.
The WHO has emphasized that the risk of a large outbreak in Europe is low but that countries should not become complacent.
A surging number of cases were reported last year in many European countries, including France and Spain. According to data from the UKHSA, there were 3,732 confirmed cases in the UK as of December 31, 2022. This year, only 9 cases have been reported so far.
The symptoms of Mpox are similar to those of smallpox. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash then develops, often beginning on the face and spreading to other body parts. The rash then forms into a scab, which later falls off.
Mpox can be severe in some cases, with a mortality rate of up to 10%, according to the WHO. The disease can also cause long-term complications, such as scarring and blindness.
The virus is typically found in remote parts of Central and West Africa. It spreads from animals to humans through contact with infected animals. Human-to-human transmission of Mpox is also possible. The disease is less contagious than other viral diseases like measles or chickenpox.
The renewed focus on Mpox serves as a reminder of the importance of global health security, particularly in an era of increased international travel and globalization. The WHO has called for increased investment in surveillance and response systems to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This is to ensure that countries are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to outbreaks.