The recent spread of monkeypox among people around the world is fueling fears of another global pandemic like COVID-19.
''We don't want people to panic or be afraid and think that it's like COVID or maybe worse,'' CNBC reported that Sylvie Briand, the World Health Organization's director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, said in a briefing on the outbreak Monday.
''This monkeypox disease is not COVID-19, it is a different virus.''
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 25 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States as of Friday afternoon. California and New York have five each, Colorado, Illinois and Utah have two confirmed cases each, and Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state have one case each.
A Florida case is also counted, although the person tested positive in the United Kingdom, according to the agency.
The rare infection can be spread when a person comes into contact with an infected animal, person, or materials contaminated with the virus, a CDC fact sheet said.
It can spread between people ''primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, cuddling, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores.''
CNN reported Friday that there are 643 cases of monkeypox in dozens of countries where the virus was previously not encountered, indicating that it may have been spreading undetected for some time.
"The sudden appearance of monkeypox in many countries at the same time suggests there may have been undetected transmission for some time," CNN reported that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.
The virus is more common and has been circulating for decades in West and Central Africa, where research indicates ''sustained human to human transmission since at least 2017.''
''The public health risk could become high if this virus exploits the opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spreads to groups at higher risk of severe disease such as young children and immunosuppressed persons,'' the WHO said in a news release earlier this week.
''A large part of the population is vulnerable to monkeypox virus, as smallpox vaccination, which confers some cross-protection, has been discontinued since 1980 or earlier in some countries.''
While it is not yet clear how the virus spread to other countries, the CDC reports that ''cases include people who self-identify as men who have sex with men.''
According to the CDC, monkeypox symptoms are similar to but milder than those of smallpox, beginning with headache, fever, muscle aches and exhaustion.
Monkeypox, however, causes swelling in the lymph nodes.
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