Tanya Lewis: Monkeypox is a viral disease that has been endemic in sub-Saharan Africa but is now spreading to other parts of the globe. What are our current facts about the outbreak? To find out more, I spoke to an expert who has studied monkeypox for over two decades.
Anne Rimoin: We didn’t have surveillance at the beginning. Now that people are looking for monkeypox, they’’re starting to find it.
Lewis: The virus is thought to spread primarily through close contact—whether that’s skin-to-skin, through contact with contaminated objects such as clothing, and through respiratory droplets at close range. The majority of the cases are fatal.FAll cases reported from the current outbreaks of HIV outside Africa are in men who have had sex. But it’s important to note that anyone can get the virus through close contact. It’s also not necessarily transmitted through sex.
Rimoin: It’s important not to stigmatize anybody. This virus has been circulating in sub- Saharan Africa communities for some time. It doesn’t discriminate against any gender or orientation. It’s about close contact.
Lewis: There is no evidence that the virus can spread by aerosols that hang in air and travel over great distances.
Rimoin: These are two completely different types of viruses. So monkeypox is a DNA virus—it’s much more stable—whereas SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus. SARS-CoV-2 (also known as SARS-CoV-2) is one. [the]The most deadly infectious virus on the planet. Monkeypox does not have the same contagiousness.
Lewis: Monkeypox symptoms include a typical pimple or blisterlike skin rash. Flulike symptoms, such as fatigue, fever and swelling of the lymph nodes are also common. Monkeypox used to be a rash that affected the entire body. It was often seen on the skin. But in the current outbreak, the rash appears to be more localized to the genitals, and some people have mild or no other symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, or suspect that you may have had monkeypox, it is important to see your physician and have the test done. Patients and providers need to be aware of the virus so that we’re not missing cases. There are many vaccines and treatments that can be used. There’s an antiviral called TPOXX, and there are two vaccines: There’s the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine, which also works for monkeypox but shouldn’t be used in people with some health conditions. And there’s a newer vaccine called JYNNEOS. The U.S. has Limited supply of Jynneos ButYou are in the process to order more. Prophylactically, vaccines can also be administered to people most at risk after they have been exposed to the virus. We must act fast.
Rimoin: [10:19] The stakes are high—we could see monkeypox establishing itself in humans with, you know, regular human-human transmission, or we could see, potentially, a spill back into animal populations. And if we do see a spill back into animal populations, it’s going to make the situation much more complicated.
Lewis: The current outbreak is still a mystery. But one thing’s for certain.
Rimoin: It is important to be humble in what we know, and to be open-minded about how this virus could be different in this setting.