Mpox: The maximum alert level raised by the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization on Thursday raised the maximum alert level for an epidemic of smallpox (formerly known as monkeypox), deeming it to be sufficiently under control nearly a year after the unprecedented outbreak of the disease began outside endemic areas.

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This pandemic “no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference, based on the recommendation of the WHO Emergency Committee.

The announcement comes exactly a week after the World Health Organization’s highest alert level for COVID was raised.

“While the emergencies related to smallpox and COVID-19 end, the risk of more waves remains for both. Both viruses continue to circulate and both continue to kill,” warned Dr. Tedros, though.

Outbreaks of smallpox, as of May 2022, have been observed in Europe and the United States, with the exception of the ten countries in Central and West Africa where the disease has long been endemic.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 23 July 2022.

Since then, the pollution curve has seen a sharp decline. Thus, there were “nearly 90% fewer cases in the last three months than in the previous three months,” Dr. Tedros noted.

So far, some 87,400 cases have been recorded in 111 countries and the disease has claimed 140 lives, according to the latest count, cited by the director-general.

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The disease – which is endemic in some countries in West and Central Africa – is characterized by a rash that may appear on the genitals or in the mouth, and may be accompanied by bouts of fever, sore throat, or pain in the lymph nodes.

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