Scientists advising the World Health Organization (WHO) on monkeypox say the window is closing to stop its spread, as cases double every two weeks, raising concerns that it will take several months for the outbreak to peak.
WHO in Europe says it has forecast over 27,000 monkeypox cases in 88 countries by Aug. 2, up from 17,800 cases in nearly 70 countries as at press time.
And the scientists say there is likely to be sustained transmission for several months and possibly longer.
“We have to get in front of this,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles to Reuters.
“It’s clear the window of opportunity for doing so is closing,” added Rimoin, a member of the WHO expert committee on monkeypox that met last week to determine whether the outbreak constituted a global health emergency.
Despite a majority of committee members voting against calling Monkeypox a global health emergency, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus still went ahead to declare it an emergency.
After such a declaration countries must urgently increase rate of vaccination, testing, isolation for those infected and contact tracing, global health experts said.
Monkeypox has been a globally neglected public health problem in parts of Africa for decades, but cases began to be reported outside countries where it is endemic in May.
It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and the hallmark painful skin lesions, that resolve within a few weeks. Five people have died in the current outbreak, all of them in Africa.
It spreads mainly in men who have sex with men, putting sexual health clinics on alert for new cases.