WHO says no evidence monkeypox virus has mutated

May 23 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization has no evidence that the monkeypox virus has mutated, a senior UN agency official said on Monday, noting that the infectious disease endemic in West and Central Africa tended not to change. .

Rosamund Lewis, head of the smallpox secretariat which is part of the WHO’s emergency programme, told a briefing that mutations tended to be generally weaker with this virus, although genome sequencing of case will help inform understanding of the current outbreak.

Health experts are watching for concerning mutations that could make a virus more easily transmitted or more severe.

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More than 100 suspected and confirmed cases in a recent outbreak in Europe and North America were not serious, said Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s head of emerging diseases and zoonoses and technical lead for COVID-19. 19.

“This is a manageable situation,” especially in Europe, she said. “But we can’t take our eyes off the ball with what’s happening in Africa, in countries where it’s endemic.”

The epidemics are atypical, according to the WHO, occurring in countries where the virus does not circulate regularly. Scientists are looking to understand where the cases originated and if anything about the virus has changed. Read more

The WHO is asking dermatology and primary health care clinics, as well as sexual health clinics, to be alert to potential cases.


The World Health Organization logo is pictured at the entrance to the WHO building, in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Many – but not all – of the people who have been diagnosed in the current monkeypox epidemic were men who have sex with men (MSM).

Officials said it was too early to say why, but this demographic may be likely to seek medical advice or access sexual health screening.

Monkeypox does not usually spread easily from person to person, but it can be spread through close person-to-person contact or through contact with items used by a person with monkeypox, such as clothing, bedding or utensils.

“We know that MSM if they spot an unusual rash, they’ll probably want to sort it out pretty quickly,” said Andy Seale, strategy adviser in the Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programs at the WHO.

“That they were proactive in responding to unusual symptoms could be history. That will become clearer in the weeks and days to come,” Seale said.

Van Kerkhove said she expected more cases to be identified as surveillance expands.

Asked if the early findings could fuel discrimination, Seale said: “There are ways to work with communities to learn from decades of experience in addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination. . We want to apply those lessons learned to this experience.

U.S. health officials said at a press briefing on Monday that a case of monkeypox in Massachusetts had been confirmed and they had identified four other suspected cases, one in New York and Florida, and two in Utah.

All were men with international travel histories consistent with the types of exposures that have been seen elsewhere, they said.

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Reporting by Josephine Mason in London; Additional reporting by Michael Erman in New Jersey; edited by John Stonestreet, Ed Osmond and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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