Monkeypox cases are rising, WHO confirms 92 cases

Tube with monkeypox on it
Test tube labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken, photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Health officials are concerned over rising cases worldwide of monkeypox, a type of viral infection usually found in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 92 cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox in 12 countries, and it expects to identify more cases of the virus.

Why is it called monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that can cause symptoms including fever, pain and a bumpy rash. The name monkeypox is because researchers first detected the virus in monkeys kept for research in laboratories in 1958. There’s no link to monkeys carrying the virus.

Experts believe the recent monkeypox outbreak is being spread through humans by intimate skin on skin contact. “What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as sexually transmitted infections,” WHO official David Heymann told news agency Reuters.

Why are health experts concerned?
The reported cases are atypical, according to the WHO, as they are detected in countries where the virus does not regularly circulate. Most current cases were reported in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, said increased global travel and climate change have accelerated the emergence and spread of viruses. 

How can people protect against monkeypox infection?
Humans should avoid close personal contact with someone who has a rash and doesn’t feel well. People who suspect they have monkeypox should isolate themselves and seek medical help.

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