The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed 131 cases of monkeypox outside Africa.
WHO also said that there are 106 suspected cases since the first was reported on May 7.
It said although the disease is an outbreak, it remains “containable’’ and limited, the WHO said, and it is convening further meetings to support member states with more advice on how to tackle the situation.
“We encourage you all to increase the surveillance of monkeypox to see where transmission levels are and understand where it is going,’’ said Sylvie Briand, WHO Director for Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness.
She said it was unclear if the cases were the “tip of the iceberg’’ or if the peak in transmission has already passed.
Speaking at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Briand reiterated WHO’s view that it is unlikely that the virus has mutated but said that transmission may be driven by a change in human behaviour.
Briand added that, particularly as people return to socialising as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted worldwide.
Many, but not all, of the cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, and Briand said it was particularly important to try to prevent sexual transmission.
Symptoms include a fever and a distinctive bumpy rash.
The West African strain of monkeypox, which is the one identified in the current outbreak, has a mortality rate of around 1 per cent.
While she said the outbreak was not normal, she stressed that it was containable.
There are also vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, she added, calling for appropriate containment measures, more research, and global collaboration.
“Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill,’’ she said.