The chief of the World Health Organization officially declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency on Saturday morning, according to multiple reports.

The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the emergency despite a lack of consensus of experts in the UN’s health agency’s emergency committee.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little and which meets the criteria in the international health regulations,” Tedros said. “I know this has not been an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views among the [committee] members.”

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The virus has made its appearance in over 70 countries as of now, and while it’s been mostly infecting men who have sex with other men, it’s now been reportedly found in two children, one of whom is in California. The CDC said that the cases were “likely the result of household transmission” and “had no contact with each other.”

The infected California resident is a toddler, and the other one is an infant who was “transiting through” Washington DC during testing.

The CDC has also said that while the virus isn’t technically a sexually translated disease, it is transmitted through physical contact with an infected person.

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According to the WHO, the cases of monkeypox has raised to an “extraordinary” levels, and is now apparently cause for more spending on the vaccine.

While the global emergency designation is the WHO’s highest alert level, it doesn’t mean the disease is more contagious than others or even lethal. According to WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, the decision was made so that “the global community takes the current outbreaks seriously.”

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Essentially, the declaration is now seen as an “extraordinary event” that needs more money and resources globally to get attention on the outbreak.

The latest information from the CDC says that there have been more than 16,000 monkeypox cases reported in 74 countries since the month of May. The only deaths have been in Africa, where the virus has been prominent for decades and where there is a much more dangerous strain found. There, it’s mostly transmitted to humans through wild animals. The virus also is not known to cross borders there, or at least it hasn’t done so until recently.

Dr. Rosamund Lewis, who is the WHO’s top monkeypox expert, said earlier this week that of the cases outside of Africa, 99% of cases were in men, 98% of those in men who have gay sex. It’s been suggested that the outbreaks in Europe and North America were thanks to two raves in Belgium and Spain, where many men engaged in sex with each other.

At the time of the raves, Tedros said, “Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern for the moment, this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners. That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.”

This piece was written by Leah Anaya on July 23, 2022. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used by permission.

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