WHO Declares Monkeypox A ‘Global Health Emergency’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the rapidly spreading Monkeypox virus a “global health emergency.”

The designation is one of WHO’s highest alert levels for a disease outbreak and comes as concerns rise that Monkeypox could become another pandemic.

Although the declaration does not impose requirements on national governments, it serves as an urgent call for coordinated action among governments around the world.

The U.N. health agency declined last month to declare a global emergency in response to Monkeypox. But infections have increased substantially since then, pushing WHO to now issue the high alert.

More than 16,000 cases of Monkeypox have been reported across 70 countries so far this year, and the number of confirmed infections rose 77% between late June and early July, according to WHO.

To date, five deaths from Monkeypox have been reported in Africa. No deaths have been reported outside of Africa.

Most people recover from Monkeypox in two to four weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus causes a rash and blisters that spread over the body and are painful.

The current Monkeypox outbreak is unusual because it is spreading in North America and Europe where the virus is not usually found. Historically, Monkeypox has spread in remote parts of Africa where rodents and other animals carry the virus.

Europe is currently ground zero for the outbreak, reporting more than 80% of confirmed infections worldwide. The U.S. has reported more than 2,500 Monkeypox cases across 44 states.

The WHO last issued a global health emergency in January 2020 in response to COVID-19 and two months later declared it a global pandemic.