The World Health Organization is reportedly convening an emergency meeting into the alarming spread of monkeypox around the world — including a possible case in the Big Apple.
The United Nations’ health authority is bringing together leading experts on the rare disease as a number of new countries announced their first confirmed cases Friday, according to The Telegraph.
The main concern is how the virus — usually concentrated in West Africa — may be spreading, the UK paper noted, with many of the new cases being with people who had not recently traveled.
The WHO will also be examining why clusters include gay or bisexual men, the paper said, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) giving similar warnings.
The reported emergency meeting comes as Manhattan specialists continue to investigate a potential case in a patient with symptoms who arrived at Bellevue Hospital.
The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Thursday that it was conducting preliminary tests for monkeypox on the patient, who was not identified but was being cared for in isolation.
The first case in the US this year was identified Tuesday in Massachusetts in a man who had recently traveled to Canada.
Canada itself confirmed its first two positive tests on Thursday. Montreal public health officials also noted they had 17 suspected cases.
On Friday, France and Germany joined the growing number of countries confirming cases. Belgian health experts were due to meet on Friday after the country detected its first two cases, men from different cities who had been at the same party, health authorities said.
Spain also reported 14 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 21.
In the UK — where the WHO already declared the spread an emergency — cases were expected to more than double on Friday, with 11 more bringing the total there to 20, The Times of London said.
As in other countries, they appeared focused on gay and bisexual men, health officials told the paper, stressing that it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease.
The CDC said it was closely monitoring the spread of the “rare but potentially serious viral illness” that starts with flu-like symptoms and causes a widespread rash, often around the genitals.
The health authority said that “men who report sex with other men, and those who have close contact with them” should be especially alert to “any unusual rashes or lesions.”
“Many of these global reports of monkeypox cases are occurring within sexual networks,” Inger Damon, director of CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said.
However, the CDC stressed that the concerns should not be limited to gay men, stressing, “Those who have any sort of close personal contact with people with monkeypox could potentially also be at risk.”
With Post wires