Monkeypox Image Credit: Shutterstock

Geneva: About 200 confirmed and more than 100 suspected cases of monkeypox have been detected so far outside of the countries where it usually spreads, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday, urging countries to increase surveillance for the infectious disease.

Monkeypox, a mild viral infection, is endemic in the African countries of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.

The recent outbreak in non-endemic countries has raised concerns. The strain circulating globally is thought to have a fatality rate of around 1 per cent, although effective vaccines and treatments are available.

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Talking during an online briefing, WHO's senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said cases have so far been detected in more than 20 non-endemic countries, adding that the agency expected the numbers to go up.

"We expect more cases to be detected. We are asking countries to increase surveillance...This is a containable situation. It will be difficult, but it's a containable situation in the non-endemic countries."

Abbott developing test for monkeypox

Abbott Laboratories said on Thursday it is actively developing a test for monkeypox, as the disease spreads in various countries.

The company will provide the test kits to partners of its Pandemic Defense Coalition, a network of scientific and public health partnerships aimed at identifying future pandemic threats, an Abbott spokesperson told Reuters.

"As the situation evolves, we will take steps to address additional testing needs," the spokesperson said.

US confirms nine cases in seven states

Abbott's announcement comes on a day when the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed it has identified nine monkeypox cases in seven US states.

Abbott is the second company to announce its development of monkeypox tests following Roche's announcement on Wednesday.