Lindon May 20 2022: The World Health Organization was due to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the recent outbreak of monkeypox, a viral infection more common to west and central Africa, after more than 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe.
In what Germany described as the largest outbreak in Europe ever, cases have been reported in at least eight European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom - as well as the United States, Canada and Australia.
First identified in monkeys, the disease typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of cases has triggered concern.
However, scientists do not expect the outbreak to evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19, given the virus does not spread as easily as SARS-COV-2.
Monkeypox is usually a mild viral illness, characterised by symptoms of fever as well as a distinctive bumpy rash.
"With several confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal, this is the largest and most widespread outbreak of monkeypox ever seen in Europe," said Germany's armed forces' medical service, which detected its first case in the country on Friday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) committee due to meet is the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential (STAG-IH), which advises on infection risks that could pose a threat to global health.
It would not be responsible for deciding whether the outbreak should be declared a public health emergency of international concern, WHO's highest form of alert, which is currently applied to the COVID-19 pandemic.