The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that the mpox outbreak will remain a global health emergency.
The decision from the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee comes amid a continued decline in reported mpox cases globally, the WHO said. But in its Feb 10 meeting—the fourth since mpox was declared a global health emergency in July 2022—the committee concluded that the sustained incidence of illness in a few countries, along with underreported detection and confirmation of reported cases, was enough to maintain Public Health Emergency of International Concern status.
As of Feb 14, there have been 85,860 confirmed mpox cases globally, with 93 deaths. Outside of countries in West and Central Africa, the outbreak has primarily affected men who have sex with men.
WHO continues to call on all countries to maintain surveillance for mpox, and to integrate services for prevention, preparedness, and response.
Members of the IHR Emergency Committee noted at their meeting that, while 43 countries in the WHO European Region have not detected any new mpox cases in the past 3 months, 18 countries in the region continue to report recent local transmission. In addition, ongoing transmission in the Americas remains a concern. The region, which has accounted for 68% of mpox infections since the outbreak began, has continued to report 200 to 250 cases per week over the past 6 weeks.
The committee also expressed concerns about the possible resurgence of cases in some countries with the resumption of LQBTQ social events and other mass gatherings, the lack of access to vaccines and testing in some regions, recurring zoonotic transmission in Africa, and insufficient evidence regarding vaccine efficacy and the duration of protection.
In introductory remarks at the WHO's weekly media briefing, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said that he concurred with the committee's decision.
"WHO continues to call on all countries to maintain surveillance for mpox, and to integrate services for prevention, preparedness, and response into national control programs, including for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections," he said.