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Anyone Can Get Monkeypox, WHO Speaks Against Stigma

World Health Organisation (WHO) has appealed against the use of imagery and language that stigmatizes key populations and Africans in the reportage of monkeypox.

The call comes in the midst of reports that seem to be apportioning blame for the rise of monkeypox infections to sexual activities linked to the LGBTI community.

Initial monkeypox reports also carried images of black Africans with monkeypox even though the first case was reported in the United Kingdom in May 2020.

Speaking to Journalists during a virtual media dialogue, Dr Ottim Patrick Cossy Ramadan, the World Health Organisation Health Emergency Officer said the absence of a monkeypox vaccine puts everyone at risk of getting the disease.

“Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease because it originates from animals and can be transmitted from animals to humans. It was first isolated in animals in the 1950S. The first documented human case was in 1970. The virus has been there largely in Africa mostly in the Tropical Rainforest in Central and Western Africa. The disease is characterized by fever, rash, and a range of illnesses. It can range from a mild asymptomatic disease to a very severe one where deaths can occur.

“For Monkeypox, we are looking at two scenarios of infection. There is the primary infection and this arises when we have the interaction between humans and animals. These can range from rodents as well as wild animals that have been identified to be reservoirs of the virus. Contact with these animals and contaminated animal products will result in initial infection or primary infection. Once the person who has come into contact with a contaminated animal or animal product develops the symptoms, he is now infectious and is able to infect other humans.

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Now we move onto Human to Human infection. This primarily occurs when we come into contact with a person who is sick especially when the rashes are there and there are fluids coming from the rash, that result in secondary transmission. The more the person who is sick comes into contact with several other people, it amplifies the infection. There are also a few documented cases of mother-to-fetus transmission of monkeypox. However, the transmission mode is largely contact, which can be in different types of social settings where contact happens,” he added.

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