What should we know about monkeypox and how worried should we be?
Unlike when COVID-19 started, this is a virus that scientists already quite understand. It requires close contact to spread, either face-to-face through respiratory droplets, contact with bodily waste, or touching monkeypox lesions.
There has been a lot of interest in this outbreak due to the fact that the lesions are around the genital region. That is not unusual, it has been involved in previous cases and that is why bodily waste can spread the disease. The interesting thing is that it is spreading out of Africa more than usual.
I think the main reason for this is that we haven’t vaccinated the human population against these poxviruses since the mid-1970s. So if you haven’t been vaccinated against smallpox, you’re more susceptible to getting poxviruses, including smallpox. of the monkey
Having said all this, monkeypox is not something that concerns me personally. I would recommend that people be careful if they are around a person they think may be infected, and if you are worried about being infected, make sure you isolate yourself and seek treatment.
At this point, case counts are relatively low, so your chances of exposure to the virus are also very low.
One annoying thing about COVID-19 is that it is constantly evolving, and new variants continue to drive case counts despite the wide availability of vaccines. Should we worry about monkeypox evolving just as fast?
Poxviruses are different from COVID-19. Monkeypox is a DNA virus, not an RNA virus, which means the genome is much more stable. It can evolve, it just takes more time. It is also possible for two poxviruses to combine and form a new variant of the virus, but this is rare, especially with this one.
Monkeypox is part of the orthopoxvirus family that includes the smallpox virus (the cause of smallpox). That’s why the smallpox vaccine has helped protect against it. Cowpox and vaccinia viruses are part of the same family, and these two viruses, as well as monkeypox, are endemic in different parts of the world.
Should we consider giving more monkeypox vaccines?
I think there might be a point where this is something to consider. One good thing about this type of virus is that they have a very low mortality rate. Because they are not particularly deadly, the push to vaccinate people is also quite low.
Often with viruses like cowpox and vaccinia, which are related to monkeypox, you get sore, you feel bad, but you’ll recover. There are some variants of monkeypox with a slightly higher mortality rate, but they haven’t spread enough to cause concern.
Also, with these viruses, once you recover, you’re immune for quite a while.
All of this makes it different from COVID-19, which raised concerns about overburdening the medical system and also had a tremendous economic impact.
And while COVID-19 is airborne, monkeypox is much more difficult to transmit and there is less concern about asymptomatic spread.
His investigation involves zoonotic cases of poxviruses. What should we know about the risk of spread of monkeypox between humans and animals?
An interesting thing about monkeypox virus is that there are animal reservoirs of the disease all over the world. It is endemic in Africa, where rodent and squirrel species can harbor the virus and be a source of infection.
During an outbreak in the US in 2003, we learned that prairie dogs and some other species in the US can also harbor the virus, and part of the work we’re trying to do is find out if deer mice can harbor an infection.
The reason this is important is that if the virus spreads to other potential reservoirs, it could be endemic in the US and other countries around the world. That’s another reason why people who suspect a monkeypox infection should isolate themselves.
In Africa, we believe that people can get monkeypox from hunting wild animals. Young children are often the ones who get the virus, as they tend to be closer to animals.
During the early 2000s outbreak in the US, people contracted monkeypox from animals shipped to the US from Africa. These captive animals were sold as pets, and people got sick from petting, kissing, and cleaning their cages.
We also know that if an animal scratches or bites a person, that person can also become infected.
When it comes to humans transmitting monkeypox to animals, our concern centers on the possibility of it spreading through bodily fluids, as rodents could come into contact with items such as discarded toilet paper and partially consumed.