SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday that nearly 5,300 monkeypox cases have so far been reported across 18 countries and territories in the Americas, with the majority in the United States, Canada and Brazil.
PAHO’s deputy director Mary Lou Valdez told a press conference that almost all cases continue to be reported among men who have sex with men between the ages of 25 and 45, but warned that anyone can get the disease regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
No deaths from monkeypox have been reported in the region to date.
Last weekend, the World Health Organization declared the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, its highest level of alert, with more than 18,000 cases reported globally.
PAHO’s Interim Assistant Director Dr. Marcos Espinal said that about 10 countries in the Americas have already said they were interested in purchasing a vaccine against monkeypox, but did not disclose which nations.
PAHO also disclosed it is “well advanced” in talks with a producer to buy third generation vaccines against the disease and that it expects some supply to arrive this year, though in limited amounts.
“We do think we will have vaccines this year,” said Espinal.
Even so, the organization’s chief of infectious hazard management unit, Andrea Vicari, said the risk from monkeypox for the general population remained “very low” and that a mass vaccination campaign was not recommended at the moment.