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Monkeypox declared a global emergency

Monkeypox is back in the headlines: On Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a “global emergency.” 

This is the strongest call to action the agency can make. It is the seventh time such a declaration has been made since 2009, the most recent being for Covid-19 in 2020. 

The world is currently experiencing at least 16,016 monkeypox cases. It is now in 75 countries and territories and there have been five deaths.

Europe has the highest number of total cases – 11,865 – and saw the highest increase in the past week. 

South Africa has, thankfully, only two cases so far. 

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic infection, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread from person to person.

As we’ve noted before, don’t fear a return to another pandemic 2.0. Monkeypox is far less contagious than Covid-19, scientists know much more about it, and there are approved vaccines in circulation. In fact, the European Commission gave Bavarian Nordic, a biotech company from Denmark, permission to expand the label of its smallpox vaccine to include monkeypox last week. The vaccine is already approved for use against monkeypox in the US and Canada.

The most common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes. This is followed or accompanied by the development of a rash or lesions that evolve through four stages before scabbing over and resolving. 

If you have symptoms, try to go into isolation as soon as you can (the incubation period is one to two weeks). You should also abstain from sex because you are infectious and could pass the virus to others. Avoid large gatherings where close contact could happen. 

Symptoms typically last two to four weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever. Stay safe out there!

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