July 24, 2022

"Public Health Emergency"

A rare declaration by the World Health Organization about an "extraordinary event" that is "serious, sudden, unusual" — as the director "sidesteps" the guidance by his own advisers.
What To Know

"We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little."

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, on declaring monkeypox “a public health emergency of international concern” — the WHO’s highest alert. The New York Times reports Dr. Tedros went against the advice of his advisers (who did not reach a consensus); reportedly, this is the first time he’s done so. The reason for concern? Cases have dramatically risen 77% from June to July.


Only 2 other diseases currently designated as public health emergencies by the WHO:

Polio: Rarely seen in the United States, though a man recently tested positive for polio in NY, igniting concerns about community spread. The disease can cause paralysis & even death. This is the 1st case in the U.S. in nearly a decade.

SARS-CoV-2: The virus that causes COVID-19. The WHO’s European region has forecast rising cases in the coming colder seasons and urges countries to strengthen surveillance strategies.


  • Monkeypox: The virus, which causes flu-like symptoms and pox marks, *was* endemic to Africa but recently surfaced elsewhere.
  • Most of the outside cases have occurred in Europe (80%). More than 2500 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. in 44 states, Washington D.C. & Puerto Rico.
  • CDC: The spread has mainly occurred amongst men in same-sex relations.
  • Report: Two U.S. children recently tested positive — both of whom reportedly live in households where adults also tested positive.

A vaccine and therapeutics do exist to prevent or treat monkeypox. This declaration not only heightens alert concerning a disease, but also encourages international coordination of resources to combat it.

WHO declares rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency (CNBC)

W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency (The New York Times)

Rapidly escalating COVID-19 cases amid reduced virus surveillance forecasts a challenging autumn and winter in the WHO European Region (World Health Organization)

WATCH: “What is a public health emergency of international concern? And how does WHO declare one? Watch this explainer video.”

Anyone can get monkeypox, but CDC warns LGBTQ community about ‘greater chance’ of exposure now (CNN)

by Jenna Lee,