What is monkeypox and where does it spread? – Daily local
LONDAN (AP) – Health authorities in Europe, North America, Israel and Australia have uncovered more than 100 cases of monkeypox in recent days.
Officials around the world are watching the new cases because it seems the first time a rare disease has spread among people who have not traveled to Africa, where monkeypox is endemic. They emphasize, however, that the risk to the general population is low.
WHAT IS MONKEY’S SMALL?
Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals such as rodents and primates, and occasionally spreads to humans. It belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox.
Most human cases were in central and West Africa, and outbreaks were relatively limited.
The disease was first identified by scientists in 1958, when there were two outbreaks of “smallpox” disease in research monkeys – hence the name monkeys. The first known human infection occurred in 1970 in a young boy in a remote part of the Congo.
WHAT CAUSED THIS LAST CASE?
Health officials are still investigating, but the World Health Organization’s chief adviser said this week that the leading theory is that monkeypox was probably spread after sexual activity at two recent raves in Europe.
Dr David Heyman, who heads the WHO Expert Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards, said monkeypox could spread through close contact with someone already infected with the disease, and that “it looks like sexual contact has now intensified the transmission.”
Authorities in countries such as the UK, Spain, Germany and Portugal say most known cases in Europe have been among men who have sex with men, but experts stress that anyone can become infected through close contact with a sick person, his clothes or sheets.
Scientists say it will be difficult to determine whether it is spread through sex or just close contact.
WHY ARE MOST INFECTIONS IN MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN?
It’s unclear, but the disease doesn’t infect gays and bisexuals more often than anyone else.
“Perhaps it’s just unlucky that (monkeypox) got into this separate community first,” said Dr. Jake Dunning, an infectious disease researcher at Oxford University who also treats cases in London. “They’re just a community, and by having sex with each other, it’s spreading,” he said.
Other experts warn that the disease could spread more widely if measures are not taken to stop the outbreak.
“Infectious diseases don’t care about borders and social networks. Some groups may be more likely to be infected, but the current risk of contracting monkeypox is not exceptional for men who have sex with men, said Dr. John Brooks of the CDC.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND HOW TO TREAT?
Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illnesses can develop rashes and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
Most people recover within about two to four weeks without the need for hospitalization, monkeypox can be fatal in up to 6% of cases and is considered more severe in children.
Smallpox vaccines are effective against monkeypox, and antiviral drugs are being developed.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has recommended isolating all suspected cases and offering high-risk vaccines to people at high risk. The UK offers high-risk smallpox vaccine and recommends that anyone who may be infected be isolated until they are cured.
The U.S. has 1,000 doses of the vaccine approved for the prevention of monkeypox and smallpox, as well as more than 100 million doses of the older generation vaccine in state reserves, officials said.
HOW UNCERTAINING IS THIS?
Any outbreak of the virus that appears is a cause for concern, but most cases have been mild and there have been no deaths so far.
Smallpox also requires very close contact to spread, so it cannot cause large waves of diseases such as COVID-19, which can be transmitted into the air by people without symptoms.
However, the British Health Agency said it expects new infections “daily”, and the WHO’s director for Europe warned that the summer season of festivals and parties could spread the disease. Many of the detected cases are not related to previous infections, indicating that the virus is already widespread.
On Tuesday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the outbreak “is not the beginning of a new pandemic”, but it needs to be contained quickly.
HOW MANY CASES OF MAPPACINE ARE THERE USUALLY?
The World Health Organization estimates that thousands of monkeys are infected in about a dozen African countries each year. Most in the Congo, where 6,000 cases are reported annually, and in Nigeria with about 3,000 cases per year.
In the past, isolated cases of monkeypox have been observed outside of Africa, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The cases were mainly related to trips to Africa or contact with animals from areas where the disease is more common.
In 2003, 47 people in six U.S. states had confirmed or probable cases. They picked up the virus from domestic meadow dogs kept near small mammals imported from Ghana.
AP authors Mike Stobbe of New York and Kirsten Grishaber of Berlin contributed to this report.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.