Saturday morning began with a significant decision for leaders at the World Health Organization. Following meetings, the WHO moved to activate its highest alert for the growing monkeypox outbreak. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the outbreak is now considered a “public health emergency of international concern.”

Activating this status isn’t a simple process. According to CNBC, the WHO leans on an emergency committee to weigh the evidence and make recommendations to the director. The committee met on Thursday. However, they were reportedly unable to decide if monkeypox equals an emergency at this time. But, the director made the executive decision to pull the trigger.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” Director Tedros said. “For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”

Monkeypox Cases Multiplying–Global Count At 15,000+

According to WHO data, 74 countries are dealing with the monkeypox outbreak. As of July 21, the WHO says laboratory results have confirmed15,328 cases. Additionally, officials have 72 possible cases. Relevant personnel has reported only five deaths to the WHO so far. However, the majority of the cases from May link back to countries with no previous history of monkeypox reports.

Monkeypox is endemic to West and Central Africa areas, but it’s unclear where the current outbreak began. However, the most affected countries, per the WHO, are Spain, Germany, the U.K., the U.S., France, Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, Brazil, and Italy. In addition, seven countries reported their first case in the last seven days.

WHO Director Says Monkeypox Gay Men Are At High-Risk

On Saturday, WHO Director Tedros gave insight on the groups at highest risk.

“For the moment, this is an outbreak that’s concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those who have multiple partners, that means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” the director said.

The CDC says monkeypox spreads through respiratory droplets and contact with bodily fluids, sores, and contaminated items like clothes and bedding. Its origins are likely a small rodent or small mammal. Some symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, sore throat and cough, painful lesions/rash, fever and headache, and a lack of energy.

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