WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says there had been more than 1,400 suspected cases of monkeypox this year in Africa and 66 deaths.
"It's an unfortunate reflection of the world we live in that the international community is only now paying attention to monkeypox because it has appeared in high-income countries,"
Tedros adds that "The risk of monkeypox becoming established in nonendemic countries is real but preventable at this point.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. has identified 21 monkeypox cases in 11 states, and the numbers are expected to rise.
Genetic analysis has revealed that while most of the cases appear to be closely related to the outbreak in Europe, two patients — one in Florida and one in Virginia — have versions of the virus that seem similar to the one infecting a patient in Texas last year.
Greece on Wednesday became the latest country to confirm its first case of the disease, with health authorities there saying it involved a man who had recently traveled to Portugal
Of 17 U.S. patients for whom the agency , all but one were men who had sex with men; 14 had traveled to other countries in the three weeks before their symptoms began. Three patients were immunocompromised.
Is Mass Vaccination Needed?
As the outbreak expands, health officials worldwide are rushing to gather vaccines and treatments to protect infected people and their close contacts. However, WHO does not recommend mass vaccination against the virus and adds that no deaths had been reported from the outbreaks.
The WHO says it is working with organizations including UN AIDS and community groups to raise awareness and stop transmission.
The United States is among the few countries to have stockpiled millions of doses of vaccines and drugs for smallpox as a precaution against its return.
Monkeypox is closely related to smallpox, and the vaccines and drugs are expected to be about as effective.
People infected with monkeypox can be vaccinated a few days after exposure. They can also be treated with one of the two drugs.
WHO senior official Sylvie Briand said it is assessing the potency of vaccines stockpiled against smallpox and contacting manufacturers and countries who have previously pledged vaccines.