Monkeypox Cases Drop 21 Percent, Reversing Month-Long Increase
GENEVA—The number of monkeypox cases reported globally dropped 21 percent in the last week, reversing a month-long trend of rising infections and signaling that Europe’s outbreak may be starting to decline, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
The U.N. health agency reported 5,907 new weekly cases and said two countries, Iran and Indonesia, reported their first cases. To date, more than 45,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in 98 countries since late April.
The Americas accounted for 60 percent of cases in the past month, WHO said, while cases in Europe comprised about 38 percent.
In late July, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared monkeypox to be a global emergency, despite a lack of consensus on his expert committee.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday the continent had 219 new cases in the past week, a jump of 54 percent. Most were in Nigeria and Congo.
British health authorities said last week there were “early signs” the country’s monkeypox outbreak was slowing. The UK’s Health Security Agency downgraded the country’s monkeypox outbreak last month, saying there was no evidence the once-rare disease was spreading beyond men who were gay, bisexual, or had sex with other men.
Since monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America were identified in May, WHO and other health agencies have noted that its spread was almost exclusively in men who have sex with men.
Monkeypox has been endemic in parts of Africa for decades and experts suspect the outbreaks in Europe and North America were triggered after the disease started spreading via sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium.
WHO’s latest report said 98 percent of cases are in men and of those who reported sexual orientation, 96 percent are in men who have sex with men.
“Of all reported types of transmission, a sexual encounter was reported most commonly,” WHO said.
Among the monkeypox cases in which the HIV status of patients was known, 45 percent were infected with HIV.
WHO has recommended that men at high risk of the disease temporarily consider reducing their number of sex partners and refraining from group or anonymous sex.