The World Health Organization-WHO has said that there is no need for mass vaccination against Monkeypox.

In their guidelines issued on Tuesday, WHO recommends smallpox vaccines as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for health workers especially laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses, clinical laboratory staff performing diagnostic testing for monkeypox, and others who may be at risk as per individual country policies.

While the first patient in the current outbreak had returned to the UK from travels to Nigeria where monkeypox is endemic, cases are now spreading among people who have not traveled to endemic areas.

Experts suggest that local transmission is occurring in areas where the disease has been newly detected.

Most confirmed cases with travel history reported travel to countries in Europe and North America, rather than West or Central Africa where the monkeypox virus is endemic.

This is the first time that many monkeypox cases and clusters have been reported concurrently in non-endemic and endemic countries.

By Friday last week, 1,285 cases had been confirmed where 87% were detected in Europe.

Control of monkeypox outbreaks primarily relies on public health measures including surveillance, contact tracing, isolation, and care of patients, and as such many countries including East Africa have taken suspected samples for testing in accredited labs in Senegal and South Africa.

For contacts of cases, WHO’s strategic advisory committee recommends post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with an appropriate second- or third-generation vaccine, ideally within four days of first exposure to prevent the onset of disease.

While smallpox vaccines are expected to provide some protection against monkeypox, WHO says clinical data are limited.

The first smallpox vaccine was identified in 1796 but the disease was eradicated in the 1980s.

“Some countries have maintained strategic supplies of older smallpox vaccines from the Smallpox Eradication Programme (SEP) which concluded in 1980. These first-generation vaccines held in national reserves are not recommended for monkeypox at this time, as they do not meet current safety and manufacturing standards”, reads a dossier released by WHO this evening.

They recommend newer versions which they call second-and third-generation vaccines for smallpox, some of which may be useful for monkeypox and one of which code-named MVA-BN has been approved for the prevention of monkeypox.

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