The World Health Network Publishes Guidelines for Global Response to Monkeypox Disease for Immediate Action by Local, Country, and World Health Authorities
International Scientific Panel Calls for Immediate Global Action on Monkeypox to Avert Disaster
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – August 3, 2022 – The World Health Network (WHN) – a global forum of scientists, epidemiologists and public health experts, today announces guidelines for global response to the monkeypox pandemic. The WHN declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern on June 22nd an entire month ahead of the World Health Organization and 6 weeks before the U.S. emergency.
The WHN’s guidance differs sharply from that released by public health authorities like the World Health Organization and State Departments of Health who focus primarily on stopping the spread among the men who have sex with men community. WHN says the trajectory of this outbreak has changed and focusing on this single population is dangerous.
“While initially 99% of cases accrued among men having sex with men (MSM), the world is now seeing an alarming growth rate of cases in straight men, children, and women. For example, in Indiana 20% of cases are now in women. In Spain, at least 15% of reported cases are not in the MSM population,” says Yaneer Bar-Yam, PhD, President of New England Complex System Institute and co-founder of WHN. “This is a worrying trajectory as it demonstrates a shift to a wider population. As we prepare for the upcoming school year, the fact that we are seeing cases emerge in children is a major concern as they are historically much more likely to have severe disease, blindness and death than adults.”
The WHN guidelines state how to rapidly identify cases and isolate those who are infected to prevent wider spread and achieve elimination. They describe best practices for reducing risk of transmission, disease management, contact tracing, risk communication, preventative measures, and vaccination strategy.
The WHN’s Guidelines Include:
- Rapid identification of cases by symptoms: pox rash that may or may not follow 2-3 days of fever, headache, body aches, profound weakness, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Safe isolation to prevent contact, indirect contact, and airborne transmission.
- Contact tracing and monitoring of potentially exposed people, checking at least daily for the early symptoms, and testing if they occur.
- Vaccination to prevent or reduce transmission by using limited supplies for vaccination early after exposure or for high-risk individuals.
Monkeypox is growing at an alarming rate, increasing almost 4-fold in the past month, reaching over 24,000 cases. The WHN says immediate concerted action is needed to avert another disaster across the globe with widespread health and economic harm and disruption.
“The outbreak will not stop without concerted global action.” said Eric Feigl Ding, PhD, Epidemiologist and Health Economist, and co-founder of WHN. “Declaring an emergency is not
enough. No amount of ‘watching’ will change the trajectory of the disease. The phrase “better late than never” does not apply to pandemics. As we saw with COVID, it is possible to be too late. These guidelines provide necessary and practical guidance to mitigate the spread of this virus.”
Monkeypox is a different pandemic than COVID. Available evidence indicates contacts don’t have to be quarantined, they must be monitored for early monkeypox symptoms, including fever, headaches and swollen glands, or a rash. Careful disinfection is necessary to reduce the risk of widespread (environmental) contamination and can be achieved without harmful chemicals.
Monkeypox if left uncontrolled will cause significant harm. The disease causes acute painful illness, skin scarring, corneal lesions that could result in blindness. Patients may require hospitalization and, in some instances, could die. Testing continues to be limited due to a lack of access so current numbers are likely grossly underestimated.
“Children, pregnant people, and the immunocompromised are at high risk for severe cases. Most cases thus far have been in young healthy adults and even so we have 6 reported deaths already and this will surely grow.” Kavita Patel, MD. “Every individual should report symptoms, and every physician should be on alert for identifying new cases given the wide range of symptoms that are possible. Inaction is not an option.
Stopping the spread of monkeypox is possible. Preventing wider transmission will reduce suffering, avert disruption to our daily lives, and protect vulnerable populations. If it is not stopped a disease with such a long incubation period and long-lasting debilitating symptoms will also have severe consequences on an already strained workforce – so economic impact if left unchecked is inevitable, we must act to stop the spread. Furthermore, rodents around the world and other mammals will become infected leading to ongoing infection of people and potential contamination of our food supply.
Historical experience with monkeypox and smallpox indicates it is possible to stop outbreaks and eliminate transmission. However, rapid response is needed and is not yet being implemented. A vaccination only strategy is not a viable option due to the current limited supply of safer vaccines. A report from Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology
- The monkeypox virus is stable in the environment for days or weeks.
- Doctors and nurses are recommended to wear N95 masks, gowns, and gloves.
- Evidence supports multiple routes of transmission including physical contact (touching an infected individual, especially the rash / postules, and intimate contact/sex), contact with contaminated clothing, bedding and other surfaces, and breathing airborne particles.
- Potential treatments are not yet tested.
- Jynneos vaccine (with fewer side effects than the traditional smallpox vaccine) is in extremely limited supply worldwide, and substantial quantities of the vaccine will not be available for months.
- Incubation time is usually 7-14 days but can be as short as 5 days and as long as 21.
- Transmission is possible before the rash is visible – so people will spread it before they know they have it unless testing is done at the early symptom stage.
- Children are much more susceptible than adults to severe disease.
About the World Health Network
The World Health Network is a collaboration of scientific and citizen teams empowering action to promote health and prevent harm. It is independent from any political body or government, and guided by compassion and scientific rigor. For more information, visit worldhealthnetwork.global
New England Complex Systems Institute