Biden on Monkeypox: Outbreak should concern 'everybody,' as health experts are baffled

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President Joe Biden said Sunday the new monkeypox outbreak should concern “everybody,” as it continues to baffle medical officials around the world.

“Everybody should be concerned about [it],” Biden said in South Korea, while speaking with a group of reporters before he boarded Air Force One for Japan, Reuters reported.

The president’s remarks come as numerous outbreaks of monkeypox were reported in Africa, followed by other reported cases in Europe and the U.S.

“We’re working on it, hard to figure out what we do,” added Biden.

AFRICAN SCIENTISTS BAFFLED BY MONKEYPOX CASES IN EUROPE, US

While there are at least 80 confirmed cases of the disease worldwide and another 50 suspected cases, the U.S. has only confirmed a pair of cases after a man in Massachusetts was diagnosed with the disease. Another man in New York City also tested positive for monkeypox.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Japan at Osan Air Base, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Japan at Osan Air Base, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Cases have been reported in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the United States, Sweden, and Canada, all by individuals who reportedly had no travel history with Africa. France, Germany, Belgium, and Australia also reported confirmed cases this week.

While no monkeypox-related deaths have been reported, the worldwide phenomenon has baffled medical experts.

“I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected,” said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist and World Health Organization advisory board member.

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“This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he added.

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right. 

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right. 
(Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)

Christian Happi, director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, similarly said he’s “never seen anything like what’s happening in Europe.”

According to WHO estimates, monkeypox could be fatal for up to one-in-ten people, though its similarity to the smallpox virus allows smallpox vaccinations to provide some protection.

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The two viruses also share similar symptoms.

An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 1996 to 1997, shows the hands of a patient with a rash due to monkeypox, in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022. 

An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 1996 to 1997, shows the hands of a patient with a rash due to monkeypox, in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022. 
(CDC/Brian W.J. Mahy/Handout via REUTERS)

Symptoms appear one to two weeks after infection and initially include mostly flu-like symptoms like fever, headaches, and shortness of breath. After about five days, a skin eruption phase begins where a rash appears and often spreads to different areas of the body.

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Monkeypox, unlike smallpox, causes lymph nodes to swell.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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