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Could monkeypox become the next global crisis? WHO’s top expert weighs in

LONDON – The World Health Organization’s top monkeypox expert said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to date to turn into another pandemic,…

Monday, May 30

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LONDON –

The World Health Organization’s top monkeypox expert said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported to date to turn into another pandemic, but acknowledged there are still many unknowns about the disease, including how exactly it’s spreading and whether the suspension of mass smallpox immunization decades ago may somehow be speeding its transmission.

In a public session on Monday, WHO’s Dr. Rosamund Lewis said it was critical to emphasize that the vast majority of cases being seen in dozens of countries globally are in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, so that scientists can further study the issue. She urged those at risk to be careful.

"It’s very important to describe this because it appears to be an increase in a mode of transmission that may have been under-recognized in the past," said Lewis, WHO’s technical lead on monkeypox. RELATED STORIES

“At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” she said. “We are concerned that individuals may acquire this infection through high-risk exposure if they don’t have the information they need to protect themselves.”

She warned that anyone is at potential risk for the disease, regardless of their sexual orientation. Other experts have pointed out that it may be accidental that the disease was first picked up in gay and bisexual men, saying it could quickly spill over into other groups if it is not curbed.

Last week, WHO said 23 countries that haven’t previously had monkeypox have now reported more than 250 […]

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