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Latest news on Monkeypox: genetic clues and how it could be spread

Latest news on Monkeypox: genetic clues and how it could be spread
Written by admin_3fxxacau

Monkeypox samples are being studied at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Monkeypox samples are being studied at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Photo: JUDY GRIESEDIECK/Star Tribune (Getty Images)

The cases of monkeypox continue to climb through the world, with mmore than 200 confirmed and suspected cases documented in over 20 countries. Sscientists are are beginning to gather their first clues about these outbreaks, including how the virus may have started to spread farther than it ever has before.

According to a tracker of the Global.health group, 174 confirmed cases and 93 suspected cases have been reported in 21 countries from Tuesday afternoon. The UK and Spain have reported the most cases, and at least seven cases have been discovered in the United States, including one in New York. NOTwhere the dead are reported so far; the type of monkeypox virus associated with these cases is known to have a mortality rate of approximately 1%.

the viral disease tends to cause large, bumpy rashes all over the body as well as flu-like symptoms. It can take up to three weeks after exposure for symptoms to appear and two weeks for the disease to resolve. The virus is mainly spread by direct contact, although it can also spread through contaminated surfaces as well as respiratory droplets and aerosols. Infected people are not considered contagious until they begin to show symptoms.

Monkeypox, closely related to the now extinct smallpox virus, is endemic to parts of Africa and is thought to commonly infect rodents. After its discovery in the 1950s, it occasionally passed from animals to humans, causing localized epidemics with limited human-to-human transmission. This makes these new cases very different from past incursions of the virus. But we may have some early indications of what is happening.

An electron microscope image of a single monkeypox virus.

An electron microscope image of a single monkeypox virus.
Photo: Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP (PA)

Some researchers have been able to genetically sequence samples of the virus collected from patients. These results suggest that the strains in these cases are closely related to strains recently collected in Nigeria, where outbreaks have been ongoing since 2018. So far at least, there does not appear to be evidence that the virus has mutated significantly since then. , which is reassuring. But further research will be needed to rule out the possibility that it somehow became more inherently transmissible. between humans.

If the virus has not inherently changed, these outbreaks may be the result of other factors, including how it is now caught. Many cases have been found in recently sexually active young gay and bisexual men. And an adviser to the World Health Organization has argued that its spread may have been amplified by two recent raves in Spain and Belgium where sex was common. Even if this turns out to be true, it would not mean that gay or bisexual men are the only people at risk, as the virus can be spread through direct contact between any sexual partner. It is also possible that these cases were first found simply because these people tend to be more aware of the risk of sexually transmitted infections in general and are therefore more likely to see a doctor regularly.

European health officials have warned that if these outbreaks are not contained quickly and effectively enough, the virus could become established in new parts of the world and regularly cause epidemics from now on. And while monkeypox can be managed with vaccines and preventative treatments, the last thing the world needs right now is a problem of another emerging infectious disease.

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