WHO's Europe chief has warned cases in the region have tripled in the last two weeks and appealed to countries to do more to ensure the previously rare disease does not become entrenched on the continent.

Ninety percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox registered worldwide — or 4,500 infections — are in Europe.
Ninety percent of all laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox registered worldwide — or 4,500 infections — are in Europe. (Reuters Archive)

The European Region remains the centre of the expanding monkeypox outbreak, with the World Health Organisation saying that efforts are needed to prevent the disease.

New cases have tripled since June 15 to over 4,500 laboratory-confirmed infections across the WHO Europe Region, which extends from Greenland in the northwest to the Russian Far East.

"Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease," Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said on Friday.

From Jan 1 to June 22, altogether 3,413 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death have been reported to WHO from 50 countries and territories in five WHO Regions.

In the meantime, WHO continues to assess the risk of monkeypox in the European Region as "high", given the continued threat to public health and the rapid expansion of the disease.

WHO said continued challenges hamper the response, with additional cases reported among women and children.

The WHO European Region represents almost 90% of all laboratory-confirmed and globally reported cases since mid-May.

READ MORE: Lone monkeypox vaccine maker ready to meet demand

Six new countries

Kluge said that since his last statement on June 15, six new countries and areas have reported monkeypox cases, taking the total to 31.

The WHO regional chief said close to 10% of patients were reported hospitalized for treatment or isolation purposes, and one patient has been admitted to an ICU.

"The vast majority of cases have presented with a rash, and about three-quarters have reported systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sore throat, or headache," said Kluge.

WHO said 26 countries and areas have submitted detailed information.

"We need to continue to examine this information carefully over the next few weeks and months to understand better exposure risks, clinical presentations in different population groups, and — most importantly — to rapidly identify any changes in the trajectory of the outbreak that would affect our public health risk assessment," said Kluge.

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which killed millions around the world every year before it was eradicated in 1980, but has far less severe symptoms.

The disease starts with a fever and quickly develops into a rash, with the formation of scabs. It is usually mild and typically clears up spontaneously after two to three weeks.

READ MORE: Monkeypox cases increase in US, over 700 infections detected globally

Source: TRTWorld and agencies