Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022.
The World Health Organization is now counting more than 550 monkeypox cases worldwide, the group's technical lead for monkeypox, Rosamund Lewis, said Tuesday on CNN International.
"We actually have today a count of over 550 confirmed cases in 30 countries across four of WHO's six regions," Lewis said.
"What we're seeing now is really quite different," she said, given that the outbreak is happening in multiple places at once.
"We're seeing cases all appearing in a relatively short period of time. We're seeing that in a few days, in a couple of weeks, we're seeing over 500 cases. This is different. This has not been seen before."
In an update over the weekend, WHO said that as of Thursday, it had received reports of 257 confirmed monkeypox cases and about 120 suspected cases in 23 nations where the virus is not endemic.
Lewis said WHO does not know the source of the outbreak and called on countries to take advantage of the "window of opportunity" to keep cases from unfolding into a greater outbreak.
The group said in its weekend briefing that the global public health risk level is moderate.
However, it added, "The public health risk could become high if this virus exploits the opportunity to establish itself as a human pathogen and spreads to groups at higher risk of severe disease such as young children and immunosuppressed persons."