As the Monkeypox virus makes its way into more and more headlines, it is important to know that this virus has been known to experts for years. To date it is not a mutated version that is alarming experts rather just the increased spread for this year is being reported out of an abundance of caution.
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The World Health Organization is reporting that more than 250 cases of monkeypox have been reported in at least 16 countries so far in 2022. Monkeypox is a much less severe cousin of smallpox.
NK Arora, the chairman of India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, said that being cautious is always recommended with any virus and this is no different. He added that it is unlikely to elevate to anything we have seen in the last two years.
“So there are two things – one is monkeypox is not as contagious as COVID. Similarly, the disease is also not as severe,” Arora said. “But the important point is that it spreads and it is a matter of concern, and it is likely to have most severe outcomes in those immunocompromised or (who) have other diseases.”
Monkeypox is endemic and it usually spread near tropical rainforests in Central and West Africa. It has increasingly been seen near urban areas, according to WHO, in other tropical climates.
During a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Rosamund Lewis, head of the smallpox secretariat WHO Emergencies program, said that anticipated spread of this disease is very low.
“This is an emerging disease,” she said. “It has been emerging for the last 20 to 30 years, (so) it’s not unknown, it’s very well described. The risk for the general public, therefore, appears to be low, because we know that the main modes of transmission have been as described in the past.”
In 2022, the first case of monkeypox in the U.S. was diagnosed in a patient hospitalized in Massachusetts who had recently traveled to Canada via private transportation.
In 2021, two people traveling from Nigeria to the U.S. were diagnosed with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.