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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, another disease has scientists on high alert.
Monkeypox is not a new virus, but it’s rarely seen outside Africa, so its sudden explosion around the world, including in Australia, scientists have worried it may be evolving better ways of spreading.
Monkeypox moves slower than COVID, through close contact, meaning it does not pose the same risk.Credit:CDC
On July 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, its highest alert, in a move expected to marshall more resources and pressure governments to step up containment efforts.
Weeks earlier, on May 20, monkeypox made it to Australia for the first time as two returned travelers from Europe were diagnosed. That cluster has since grown to more than 40 cases, but some 16,000 have been reported in total across more than 70 countries since early May, from Europe to North America and the Middle East.
Still, health officials stress that monkeypox moves slower than COVID, through close contact, meaning it does not pose the same risk. The WHO has warned countries to contain outbreaks almost before they gain a foothold and convened researchers from around the globe to examine what’s driving it.
Read the full explainer here.