Joe Biden told reporters as he left South Korea for Japan this weekend that the monkeypox outbreak should “concern everybody.” International medical officials appear to have few answers regarding the reported cases of monkeypox in Africa, Europe, and the United States.
Biden added, “We’re working on it, hard to figure out what we do.”
The U.S. had only confirmed a pair of cases by this past weekend, one in Massachusetts and another in New York City. There have been 80 confirmed cases and 50 more suspected cases reported worldwide. There have not been any reported deaths from monkeypox infection so far.
World Health Organization (WHO) advisory board member Oyewale Tomori said that he is stunned by the outbreak. He said the current situation is not like the spread that has been seen before in West Africa and added “there may be something new happening in the West.”
The WHO has estimated that monkeypox could be fatal in up to 10% of cases, although smallpox vaccinations are expected to provide some level of protection. The two viruses are similar as related to vaccine response.
Symptoms normally appear one to two weeks after monkeypox infection. They include flu-like conditions like fever, headaches, and shortness of breath. The virus also causes a skin eruption with a rash that spreads across the body. It also causes lymph nodes to swell.
Belgium is the first nation to impose a mandatory quarantine period for monkeypox patients. Health authorities there announce a 21-day lockdown period for infected persons after the country saw its third reported case last Friday. Belgium had its fourth reported case on Monday.
Persons in close contact with infected persons there are not required to self-isolate but have been encouraged to exercise extreme caution with contacting vulnerable people. Those with active infections will be placed in contact isolation for the quarantine period following the healing of injuries.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.K. Health Security Agency have noted that reported cases indicate a concentration among males who have recently had sex with other males. Public health officials have urged gay men to be especially cautious of any unusual skin rashes or lesions.