The World Health Organization (WHO) does not believe the outbreak of smallpox outside Africa will lead to a pandemic, the official said on Monday, adding that it was still unclear whether asymptomatic humans could transmit the disease. .
More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of smallpox (usually a mild disease that spreads in close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and blistering rashes) were reported in May, mainly in Europe.
The WHO is examining whether the occurrence of cases outside Africa should be considered a “potential international public health emergency”.
Such a declaration, as in the case of COVID-19 and the Ebola virus, would speed up research and funding to control the disease.
Asked if the situation could turn into a pandemic, Rosamund Lewis, a WHO health emergency technician, said: “We don’t know, but we don’t think so.”
“Right now, we’re not worried about a global pandemic,” she added.
After being infected with monkeys, the time from the onset of the rash to the fall of the scab is considered an infection period, but there is little information about the possible spread of the virus from asymptomatic people, she said. .
The strain of the virus involved in the outbreak can kill a small percentage of those infected, but no deaths have been reported so far.
Most cases have occurred in Europe, rather than in Central and West African countries, where the virus is endemic and not usually associated with travel.
Therefore, scientists are trying to find out what could explain the increase in these unusual cases, while public health authorities suspect a certain degree of transmission in society.
Some countries have started offering vaccines to close contact with confirmed cases.
(Reported by Natalia Grover in London, French version of Lou Phil, said Kate Entringer)
author Natalia Grovere
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