The World Health Organization declared the growing monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency on Saturday, signaling an expanding international concern over the virus.
The WHO’s declaration comes as the monkeypox infection has been transmitted in more than 70 countries. The rapid growth has prompted health experts to call for increased global efforts to fight the spread.
“The bottom line is we’ve seen a shift in the epidemiology of monkeypox where there’s now widespread, unexpected transmission,” Dr. Albert Ko, public health and epidemiology professor at Yale University, told the Associated Press. “There are some genetic mutations in the virus that suggest why that may be happening, but we do need a globally-coordinated response to get it under control.”
In the United States, more than 2,300 cases have been reported, including in New York, Illinois, and Georgia. The District of Columbia leads the nation in its cases, with 19 cases reported per 100,000 residents.
In the last two weeks, Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia reported their first cases.
Globally, more than 16,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in 74 countries since May.