WHO: No mass vaccination against monkeypox is needed

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not believe that recent cases of monkeypox outside Africa call for mass vaccination.

She said measures such as good hygiene and safe sexual behavior would be effective in curbing the spread of the contagious disease, a senior WHO spokesman was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Richard Peabody, who heads the team of the organization’s European branch of high-risk pathogens, said in an interview with the agency that available supplies of vaccines and drugs are relatively limited.

He was speaking at a time when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was preparing to vaccinate close contacts of people with monkeypox, Reuters reported. Also yesterday, Germany said it was considering various options, and Britain offered vaccines to some health workers.

Authorities in Europe and North America are investigating more than 100 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox. The cause of the highest prevalence of infectious disease outside Africa, where it is endemic, has not yet been identified. Many of those infected, but not all, are gay men, according to Reuters.

AFP points out that what puzzles and worries experts is the simultaneous occurrence of cases in many countries, especially in Europe. The infected did not travel to Africa.

The main measures to control the spread of monkeypox are contact tracking and isolation, Peabody told Reuters. He argues that the virus is not very easily transmitted, nor has it caused a serious course of the disease so far. In addition, vaccines used against monkeypox (in principle, they are against virtually extinct smallpox) can have some serious side effects, said the WHO.

A case of a person with monkeypox has been confirmed in the United States so far – in the state of Massachusetts, according to AFP. Four other cases have been analyzed, but it is very likely that they also have this disease – one in New York and Florida and two in Utah. All five are men who have traveled abroad.

Moroccan health authorities, meanwhile, have reported three suspected cases of monkeypox.

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