LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — It is not clear yet whether the spread of monkeypox can be contained completely, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, adding that its goal was to contain the outbreak by stopping human-to-human transmission to the maximum extent possible.
WHO leaders are set to meet Wednesday to discuss the ongoing outbreak.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland currently has the highest concentration of cases, with 106 reported between May 13 to May 26, according to the WHO.
Health officials suspect monkeypox, a mild yet highly contagious illness, is spreading through sexual contact. That intimate contact is believed to be how it passes rapidly from human to human.
So far, 10 cases have been reported in the U.S. In addition, more than 300 cases have been confirmed worldwide, increasingly discovered in countries not typically known to experience outbreaks.
“It’s a disease that spills over to humans from time to time; it’s been known to science since 1970. We’ve managed outbreaks before in western central Africa — the difference now is that it’s the largest outbreak outside of Africa,” explained Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine.
The WHO said it isn’t concerned about a global pandemic; its primary goal is to bring awareness of the disease and work to curb human-to-human transmission. Still, doctors advise people to look for unusual skin blistering and rashes.
WHO says most cases have been linked to sexual contact among gay and bisexual men but asserts this isn’t being labeled as a sexually transmitted disease.
“Monkeypox is spread by close contact, including skin-to-skin contact. So, that would clearly include sex, but it is not principally a sexually transmitted infection,” Noymer said.
June marks Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and honors LGBTQ+ civil rights, with parades planned throughout cities across the country.
While doctors say people attending large events should remain cautious and monitor for symptoms, it shouldn’t stop them from attending.
“I think everyone, no matter what event they go to if they develop a pustules or blister-like rash, should seek medical attention,” Noymer said.