Monkeypox: Is it time to be worried or to ignore it?

You don't have to be still suffering from the Covid pandemic.

Monkeypox: Is it time to be worried or to ignore it?

You don't have to be still suffering from the Covid pandemic. There's another virus that you need to learn about. It's monkeypox, and around 80 cases have been confirmed in 11 countries (including the UK), where one would not expect to contract the disease.

What is the situation? Are we being too excited after just living through Covid?

We are not about to let this be another Covid.

This is a rare and unpredicted monkeypox epidemic. Scientists who specialize in the disease were taken by surprise. It is always concerning when a virus alters its behavior.

Monkeypox has been pretty predictable up until now.

Wild animals are thought to be more likely to have the virus than monkeys. The virus spreads from one species to another in the Central and Western African rainforests. The virus causes a rash on the skin, which then blisters and then scabs.

It is now out of its normal home and struggling to spread, so it requires prolonged close contact in order to continue to spread. Thus, outbreaks are usually small and quickly disappear.

Although a small number of cases have been reported elsewhere in the world, such as the UK, all can be linked to someone traveling to the affected country and bringing it back.

This is no longer true.

Professor Sir Peter Horby, director of the University of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute, said to me, "We are in a very different situation. That is a surprise, and a concern."

He said that this virus is not Covid-Two, but that we must act to stop it from spreading. This is something he really wants to avoid.

Doctor Hugh Adler, a monkeypox patient, says: "It isn't a pattern that we've seen before. This is a surprise."

This outbreak is unique, and we don't know why.

Two options exist: the virus has evolved or the same virus is still present and can thrive in the right environment at the right time.

Monkeypox, a DNA virus, does not mutate as quickly as flu or Covid. Early genetic analysis has shown that the current cases are closely related to the 2018 and 2019 forms of the virus. Although it is too soon to know for sure, there is no evidence that this is a new variant.

A virus does not have to be changed in order to seize the opportunity. This is what we have seen from unexpected large Zika virus outbreaks in the past decade.

Prof Adam Kucharski from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stated, "Until then, we thought Ebola was easy enough to contain."

It is not clear why gay men and bisexual men are affected in such a large number. Is it possible that sexual behavior makes it easier to spread? Or is it just a coincidence? Are they more conscious of their sexual health and are they getting checked out?

Monkeypox may be spreading more easily. Older generations would have been protected from the closely related monkeypox by mass smallpox vaccines in the past.

Dr. Adler said that although it is likely to transmit more efficiently than smallpox, there are no signs suggesting it could be rampant. However, he still expects the outbreak to die.

This will allow you to predict the future.

We are only scratching the surface of this iceberg. The cases that have been identified don't fit neatly into the picture of who passed it on, etc. Many of the cases are unrelated so it is possible that there are missing links in an iceberg spreading across Europe.

The current situation could be explained by a recent superspreading event in which large numbers of people caught monkeypox at one location.

Another explanation is that the virus may have been unnoticed for a long time and infected many people.

We can expect to continue finding more cases.

Prof Jimmy Whitworth from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, "I don’t think the public should be concerned at this stage. But I don’t think we’ve uncovered everything and we aren’t in control of it."

However, we are not in exactly the same position as Covid.

Monkeypox, which is not a new virus, is well-known and has vaccines and treatments. Although it is usually mild, it can be deadly in children under five, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems.

It spreads slower than Covid, and the characteristic and painful rash makes this harder to spot than a common cold that could be any other. It is easier to find people at risk and to vaccinate them.

Hans Kluge, World Health Organization's Regional Director for Europe, warned that "as the summer season...with mass gatherings and festivals, I am concerned about transmission."

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