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At least 780 cases of monkeypox cases have been identified in more than two dozen countries, the World Health Organization said this weekend.
While health officials have stressed that they don’t expect the outbreak to become a pandemic, WHO said Saturday that it is “highly likely” more countries will see cases pop up in the coming days and weeks.
“Although the current risk to human health and for the general public remains low, the public health risk could become high if this virus exploits the opportunity to establish itself in non-endemic countries as a widespread human pathogen,” WHO said in an update on the outbreak.
The United Kingdom, where the first infection was discovered on May 6, has the most cases with 207 confirmed, according to WHO.
Spain and Portugal have the second and third most cases with 156 and 138 infections respectively.
US MONKEYPOX CASES CLIMB, ANOTHER REPORTED IN COLORADO
Massachusetts was the first state in the U.S. to report a case of monkeypox on May 18 in a person who had recently traveled to Canada.
Multiple other states from California to New York have also reported cases in recent weeks.
Jennifer McQuiston, the head of the CDC’s monkeypox response team, said that more analysis of recent cases in the U.S. will be necessary to determine the prevalence of the virus.
“I think it’s certainly possible that there could have been monkeypox cases in the United States that went under the radar previously, but not to any great degree,” McQuiston said Friday.
MONKEYPOX VIRUS CASES : NYC IDENTIFIES 2 MORE POSSIBLE INFECTIONS
Monkeypox, which belongs to the same genus of virus as smallpox, is endemic to several countries in west and central Africa.
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The virus has similar symptoms to smallpox, including headache, fever, and exhaustion, followed by a rash that develops into blisters.
Monkeypox spreads through direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with contaminated materials, but it can also be transmitted through aerosols when individuals are in close proximity for an extended period of time.