Global monkeypox cases top 6,000, WHO says

Monkeypox viruses, in blue
Monkeypox viruses, in blue


The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the global outbreak of monkeypox has grown to more than 6,000 cases, with 80% in European countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said today that infections have been detected in 58 countries. Our World in Data lists 7,075 confirmed cases worldwide.

Testing is a challenge

"Testing remains a challenge, and it's highly probable that there are a significant number of cases not being picked up," he warned during a speech. "I plan to reconvene the Emergency Committee so they are updated on the current epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak, and implementation of counter measures."

The committee will reconvene on Jul 18 or sooner. During a meeting last week, the WHO experts decided the outbreak does not yet warrant a public health emergency of international concern.

Yesterday the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO released a new toolkit aimed at event organizers who wish to minimize the spread of monkeypox at large gatherings.

"Mass gatherings do not amplify transmission by themselves—it is the behaviour during events that matters. As events may be a conducive environment for the transmission of monkeypox if they entail close, prolonged, and frequent interactions, especially sexual activity, targeting at-risk behaviour can help reduce the spread of monkeypox," the ECDC said.

The ECDC and the WHO also published risk communications guidance for monkeypox. The document covers trusted communicators, communication channels, community engagement, and priority groups, with a special focus on men who have sex with men, who constitute the vast majority of infected people.

Lapcorb to offer monkeypox testing

Beginning today, Labcorp will be able to test for monkeypox virus, doubling the nationwide capacity for testing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The ability of commercial labs to test for monkeypox is a key pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, in a media statement. "This will not only increase testing capacity but will make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-lab relationships."

Labcorp said it will be able to process 10,000 tests weekly.

"Labcorp appreciates the opportunity to support the CDC in its efforts to keep the public safe and manage the monkeypox outbreak," said Brian Caveney, MD, the chief medical officer and president of Labcorp Diagnostics in a press release. "We will initially perform all monkeypox testing in our main North Carolina lab and have the capacity to expand to other locations nationwide should the need arise."

Partnering with commercial laboratories to increase national capacity for monkeypox testing was a key component of the Biden administration's plan to contain the outbreak.

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