It’s official. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined monkeypox constitutes a global health emergency, calling it a “public health emergency of international concern” due to a multi-country outbreak.
But will it impact travel?
The short answer from the health experts we’ve talked to is “no,” but let’s dive into the facts.
According to the WHO, anyone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox or has signs and symptoms compatible with the virus infection should avoid any travel until they are no longer considered a public health risk.
Most of the nearly 17,000 monkeypox cases reported so far are in Europe.
Nearly 3,000 have been reported in the U.S., but the WHO and local doctors caution that these numbers may be much lower than actual figures due to underreporting.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest news on the disease and what impact it may have on global travel.
What is the potential monkeypox impact on travel?
Although a monkeypox vaccine is available, there are no requirements to be vaccinated against it in order to travel. But travelers should be aware of areas with high infection rates. You can check this map to see rates by country.
“For most travelers, this should not cause alarm, but it is worth understanding the risk numbers in the travel destination,” says Dr. Jenny Yu from Healthline. (Healthline is owned by Red Ventures which also owns The Points Guy). “As this is a re-emerging disease, not all healthcare providers are familiar with diagnosis and treatment, which may delay diagnosis, something to consider when traveling. People should take the necessary precautions but should not panic from a travel standpoint.”
The U.K., Belgium and Germany, all with increasing monkeypox numbers, have issued 21-day quarantine recommendations for people diagnosed with the disease. However, such quarantines are thought to be inefficient for preventing its spread due to the virus’s long incubation period, especially when compared to COVID-19, according to a Cowen market analysis report.
Still, monkeypox “shouldn’t be an issue when traveling,” says New York-based Dr. Jake Deutsch, a former emergency room physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital who now runs a private practice focused on men’s health. Deutsch says most travelers shouldn’t worry, “unless you’re engaging in higher risk behavior while in countries with high infection rates.”