Scientists Continue to Be Puzzled by Monkeypox as It Spreads to New Countries

Pox virus, illustration. Pox viruses are oval shaped and have double-strand DNA. There are many types of Pox virus including Chickenpox, Monkeypox and Smallpox. Smallpox was eradicated in the 1970's. Infection occurs because of contact with contaminated animals or people and results in a rash or small bumps on the skin.

Scientists are trying to understand why monkeypox spreads rapidly in areas that don’t normally harbour the disease. The first case of monkeypox was confirmed by the United Kingdom in May. Andrea McCollum, an epidemiologist at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that they haven’t seen this type of observation from monkeypox prior to this.

Based on the information from World Health Organization and the CDC, more than 550 cases have been reported by 30 countries, and 18 of them are from the US. “We are seeing cases appear in a very short time. In a matter of days or weeks, we can see over 500 cases. This is a new way of looking at things. This is something new,” Rosamund Lewis (whole body’s technical lead on monkeypox), stated.

According to the CDC, a genus of the monkeypox virus and that of smallpox is the same. However, after the 1980 global vaccination against smallpox, fading immunity could have contributed to the increase in cases. Nature has also stated that smallpox vaccination is no longer recommended. Africa has had about a thousand cases per year. Most of the patients are from the central and western parts of the country. However, the cases outside the country have increased in comparison to the data since 1970 —the year in which the first case of monkeypox in humans was discovered.

Nature says that monkeypox is not a coronavirus even though scientists are concerned about its rapid spread. Unlike SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that caused the COVID-19 Pandemic), Monkeypox is less infectious than Monkeypox, Jay Hooper, a physician at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick. Jay Hooper said that it is not as contagious as SARS, which is the virus that causes the COVID-19 pandemic.

SARS-CoV-2 spreads via tiny droplets in the atmosphere called aerosols. However, scientists believe that it spreads primarily through contact with bodily fluids. Therefore, someone infected by monkeypox will have fewer close contacts than someone infected by the coronavirus. Hooper also stated.

The monkeypox strain is similar to the less deadly strain in West Africa. This strain has a lower death rate than the one found in the rural population. Nature reports that the fatality rate for the more dangerous strain in Central Africa is up to 10%.