Monkeypox Infections Now Declared Global Emergency

Now classified as a global emergency, health officials are now contending with the first two U.S. cases of monkeypox in children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the two cases Friday. CDC director Rochelle Walensky said that both infected cases have been traced back to the “gay men’s community,” where most of the spread has taken place.

It is believed that both of the cases in children are the “result of household transmission,” and both of the infected are doing well.

The World Health Organization (WHO) took the monkeypox outbreak to its highest level alert Saturday as cases continue to spread. The second emergency meeting that convened over the disease’s growth ended with the declaration of a public health emergency of international concern.

Interestingly, the committee was unable to reach a consensus on the outbreak after declining to make that designation when it first met on June 23.

At that point it only acknowledged the “evolving health threat,” and Saturday’s decision was not across the board. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that he personally reached the decision after weighing the five criteria for emergency status.

It was the first time the head of the U.N. agency made that call unilaterally.

He acknowledged that it was not an “easy or straightforward process.” Dr. Tedros told reporters that the spread was rapid and too little was understood about the methods of transmission.

Over 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been detected globally in 75 countries. Five deaths are blamed on the worldwide upsurge.

It is endemic to areas of Central and West Africa, and until May there had not been large outbreaks away from the region. Despite the name, it is commonly spread in Africa through contact with rodents.

But now dozens of epidemics are known in Europe and North America, which have the most international cases. Further complicating the effort to counteract the spread is that people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa are getting infected.

A declaration of international emergency means the world is going through an “extraordinary event” that may need a more coordinated response — presumably through the WHO. This latest declaration comes after those for COVID-19, the Zeka virus, ebola, and polio.