Monkeypox Outbreak Declared Public Health Emergency by WHO

Monkeypox virus
The World Health Organization’s emergency committee met to discuss the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox.

The multi-country outbreak of monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency, according to a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 23, 2022.1

Monkeypox is rapidly spreading across the globe, with 72 countries already reporting a total of 14,533 positive and probable cases between January 1, 2022 and July 20, 2022.

“I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.2

Although members of WHO’s emergency committee were not unanimous in their decision over whether the outbreak constitutes a global emergency, Tedros noted that monkeypox has “…a clear risk of further international spread.”2

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Tedros stated “…we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations.”2

The mean incubation period of monkeypox is estimated to be between 7.6 and 9.2 days, according to surveillance data captured from the US, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The majority (99%) of monkeypox cases in the US, Spain, Canada, and the United Kingdom have occurred in men who have sex with men .1

Tedros remains hopeful, however, noting that “…with the tools we have right now, we can stop [monkeypox] transmission and bring this outbreak under control.”2


1. Second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) emergency committee regarding the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox [press release]. World Health Organization; July 23, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022.

2. WHO director-general’s statement at the press conference following IHR emergency committee regarding the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox – 23 July 2022 [transcript]. World Health Organization. July 23, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022.–country-outbreak-of-monkeypox–23-july-2022