WHO warns Outbreaks of Diseases such as Monkeypox, Lassa Fever Becoming more Frequent

The World Health Organization’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, warned on Wednesday that outbreaks of endemic diseases such as Monkeypox and Lassa Fever are becoming more persistent and frequent.

The usually mild viral disease is endemic in west and central Africa. The disease is understood to spread through close contact. Until early May, cases rarely cropped up outside Africa and were typically linked to travel to there.

About Monkeypox and Lassa Fever

Medical experts say Monkeypox is that disease that is caused by a virus that is related to measles. It is a mixture of smallpox and monkeypox but it has developed into a fatal disease.

Although it is not as dangerous as the other infectious diseases, the infection can be mild to severe depending on the people who are infected. It can be fatal for the young and the elderly, especially those who cannot afford medical help.

Lassa Fever is also called Lassa Viral Encephalitis (LVE). In cases involving Lassa Fever, symptoms include high fever, headaches, vomiting and abnormal changes in mental state. Outbreaks occur mostly in West Africa.

In 2014, there were between 10,000 and 100,000 cases of Lassa fever in West Africa.

Common symptoms of Monkeypox:
  • Rash
  • Soreness of the eyes
  • a fever in the body
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpit

Severe symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, eye problems, convulsions, or a fatal infection. The virus is spread by touching contaminated objects or people. There have been cases where people were infected when it was never theirs. The disease spreads from one individual to another through close contact with the infected person’s bodily fluids or secretions. It can be contagious for three months after being exposed to it. In some cases, it can become fatal within one week if not treated immediately with anti-viral medication such as ribavirin.

Most common symptoms of Lassa Fever:
  • Feeling of pain in the kidneys
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting often accompanied by diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pain and or swelling
  • Encephalitis or encephalopathy (inflammation of the brain) which is usually associated with fever, confusion and disorientation, drowsiness, seizures.

Generally, this infection is carried by rats that live in areas where food is prepared. Some people are immune to this disease while others are not. In most cases, getting the disease once means that someone is immune to it for life after recovery.

Current reports on the spread of the diseases

According to Director Ryan, animals and human are changing their food-seeking behaviour as the climate change contributes to rapidly changing weather conditions like drought. Consequently, diseases that typically circulate in animals are increasingly jumping into humans, he added.

He further said, “Unfortunately, that ability to amplify that disease and move it on within our communities is increasing – so both disease emergence and disease amplification factors have increased.”

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Wednesday that Monkeypox appears to be spreading from person to person in England.

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The agency said, “The current outbreak is the first time that the virus has been passed from person to person in England where travel links to an endemic country have not been identified”, further informing that investigations continue but “currently no single factor or exposure that links the cases has been identified”.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday also informed that it had so far received reports of more than 550 confirmed cases of the viral disease from 30 countries outside of Africa.

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