Here’s what you need to know about the rare virus found in the US, UK and Europe

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Cases of monkeypox, a rare infection typically found in specific parts of Africa, have been confirmed in Europe, the UK and the US, while more than a dozen are suspected and experts are unclear. how, where and for how long. has been spreading in the community.

key facts

Monkeypox is usually found in parts of central and western Africa, and infections elsewhere are rare and usually related to travel to those regions.

The virus does not spread easily between people and can be transmitted through close contact with an infected animal, a person, or contaminated materials such as towels or bedding, primarily through respiratory droplets, but also through contact with bodily fluids. or monkeypox sores.

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, muscle aches, headache, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes, with many developing a rash within one to five days after the fever appears.

A person is contagious until all the scabs have fallen off and there is intact skin underneath, although the scabs themselves may still contain infectious material.

The disease is usually mild and goes away on its own within a month, and while the WHO said children are at higher risk than adults, it can cause complications during pregnancy, such as stillbirth and congenital smallpox, and could have a mortality between 1%. and 10%.

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Cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Massachusetts, with further suspicions and under investigation. More than a dozen cases are also suspected in Canada. The cases were not related to travel to areas where monkeypox is more common, and authorities believe the outbreaks indicate community transmission of the virus.

amazing fact

Most cases of monkeypox have been found among homosexual and bisexual men or among men who have sex with men. While the virus is not known to be sexually transmitted, some experts believe the pattern suggests this is another route of transmission. The head of the WHO’s emerging diseases unit, Maria Van Kerkhove, told STAT News that people should be careful noting the pattern among men who have sex with men. It’s possible that the pattern is a product of health officials looking for more cases or that this is a group of people who are more likely to visit sexual health clinics, for example.

what we don’t know

Much. While experts believe the pattern of infections indicates the disease is spreading in the community, it’s not clear how or if the different groups are connected. It’s also unclear how long the disease may have been circulating, although the WHO’s Van Kerkhove told STAT News that it “clearly… has been going on for a few weeks.” There are also two broad strains of monkeypox, one circulating in West Africa and the other in the Congo Basin. The West African strain, which authorities believe is involved in the current outbreaks, has a fatality rate of around 1%. The Congo Basin strain has a much higher documented mortality rate, up to 10%. Beyond that, scientists don’t know the animal host of the virus. The name monkeypox is a misnomer, getting its name after it was identified in laboratory monkeys in the 1950s, and experts believe rodents are the likely reservoir.


There are no proven and safe treatments for monkeypox approved for use in the US, according to the CDC. He said outbreaks can be managed using vaccines against smallpox, a closely related virus, antivirals and vaccinia immunoglobulin, a therapy derived from the blood of people vaccinated against smallpox. While there are more options to combat smallpox, they are still limited and supplies are tight because the disease was eradicated more than four decades ago, which also means very few people under the age of 40 or 50 will have been immunized against it . On Wednesday, the US exercised a $119 million option to make the only FDA-approved smallpox vaccine, which has also been approved to protect against monkeypox, though manufacturing is expected in 2023 and 2024. It is unclear whether the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) exercised this option on monkeypox outbreaks or for another reason (countries stockpile smallpox vaccines for defense purposes).

Other readings

First US monkeypox case of 2022 reported in Massachusetts (Forbes)

Monkeypox – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (World Health Organization)

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