WHO: Monkeypox cases spike in Americas, fall in Europe

A patient shows his hand with a sore caused by an infection of the monkeypox virus, in the isolation area for monkeypox patients at the Arzobispo Loayza hospital, in Lima on Aug 16, 2022. Nearly 28,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide in the last three months and the first deaths are starting to be recorded. (ERNESTO  BENAVIDES / AFP)

GENEVA – The Americas have replaced Europe as the region with the highest caseload — more than two-thirds — of newly confirmed monkeypox infections globally in the past few weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said here on Thursday.

While last week (Aug 15 to Aug 21) the number of cases reported globally declined by 21 percent, new cases increased in the Americas with intense transmission, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists.

In the past 4 weeks the Americas accounted for about 60.3 percent of the new cases worldwide against Europe's 38.7 percent

In the early stages of the outbreak, the European region reported the largest number of infections, but in the past 4 weeks the Americas accounted for about 60.3 percent of the new cases worldwide against Europe's 38.7 percent.

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As of Monday, ten countries had reported the highest cumulative number of cases globally. These were the US, Spain, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Peru and Portugal. Together, these countries accounted for 88.9 percent of the cases reported globally.

"There are signs that the outbreak is slowing in Europe, where a combination of effective public health measures, behavior change and vaccination are helping to prevent transmission," Tedros said.

"However, in Latin America in particular, insufficient awareness or public health measures are combining with a lack of access to vaccines to fan the flames of the outbreak," he said.

The WHO's data show that the monkeypox outbreak continues to affect young males, with 98.2 percent of the cases being males with a median age of 36 years. Among the infections of those who reported sexual orientation, 95.8 percent were men who had sex with men, and the majority of these infections were likely contracted in a party setting with sexual contacts.

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The WHO encourages all countries to conduct studies on the effectiveness of monkeypox vaccines while also increasing access to such vaccines.