The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday called an emergency meeting to discuss the recent outbreak of monkeypox, a viral infection more common to west and central Africa, after more than 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe, Reuters reported.
In what Germany described as the largest outbreak in Europe ever, cases have been reported in at least eight European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom - as well as the United States, Canada and Australia.
First identified in monkeys, the disease typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of cases has triggered concern.
At the same time, scientists do not expect the outbreak to evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19, according to Reuters.
Monkeypox is usually a mild viral illness, characterized by symptoms of fever as well as a distinctive bumpy rash.
The WHO committee due to meet is the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential (STAG-IH), which advises on infection risks that could pose a threat to global health.
It would not be responsible for deciding whether the outbreak should be declared a public health emergency of international concern, WHO's highest form of alert, which is currently applied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
British authorities said on Thursday they had offered a smallpox vaccine to some healthcare workers and others who may have been exposed to monkeypox.
The first European case was confirmed on May 7 in an individual who returned to England from Nigeria. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) on Wednesday confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in an adult male with recent travel to Canada.
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)