With global monkeypox numbers jumping by 20 percent in the past week alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging all countries to do more to rein in the spread, including ensuring at-risk populations have access to services and information about the dangers and how to protect themselves.
There is also a vaccine, originally developed for smallpox, but it is in short supply.
Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, stressed that there was still little data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in protecting against monkeypox in the current outbreak.
While no randomised control trials had been conducted yet, she said there were reports of breakthrough cases following vaccination, indicating “the vaccine is not 100 percent”.
Pointing to limited studies in the 1980s suggesting that the smallpox vaccines used at the time might offer 85-percent protection against monkeypox, she said the breakthrough cases were “not really a surprise”.
“But it reminds us that the vaccine is not a silver bullet,” she said.
A first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox — between two men and their Italian greyhound living together in Paris — was reported last week in the medical journal The Lancet.
“This is the first case reported of human-to-animal transmission… and we believe it is the first instance of a canine being infected,” Lewis told reporters.
Monkeypox was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, though it is found most frequently in rodents.
The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970, with the spread since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries.
But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world, mainly among men who have sex with men.
Worldwide, more than 35,000 cases have been confirmed since the start of the year in 92 countries, and 12 people have died, according to the WHO, which has designated the outbreak a global health emergency.