Monkeypox – Virus can jump species, could find a home in pets

Undiscovered problem Expansion of monkeypoxAlready underway in the United States Before Health officials in the U.S. and Europe raised the alarm in May about this deadly viral disease. That’s a problem. For every day that a virus spreads unmonitored and unchecked, there’s greater risk of it finding a permanent home in a country it was only visiting. In the case of the pox — in our pets.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this information earlier in the month. Announced that there are two strains of the virus circulating in the country, which indicates it’s probably been here much longer than originally thought. It’s not clear when that other outbreak began, but it could have potentially been months ago. 

Monkeypox, which causes a rash and fever and is fatal in a very small percentage of cases, isn’t nearly as transmissible as Covid-19. But unlike the novel coronavirus, it spreads easily to and from certain animal populations — rodents in particular.

There might not be an easy way to stop the spread of the pox in the U.S. to rats, hamsters or gerbils. “I do share the other scientists’ concern of containment and the virus becoming endemic in our U.S. rodent population,”sys Stephanie James is the head of a virus testing laboratory at Regis University in Colorado.

There are some good news. First, there has been no death from either pox epidemic. The authorities are better equipped to manage the outbreaks because they have large stocks of smallpox vaccination (which also works against monkeypox) and years of experience in contact-tracing thanks Covid-19. 

More good news: despite Some mixed messagesAccording to some experts, the pox can be prevented NotIn its current form, airborne. The CDC didn’t respond to a request for comment, but the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control —Europe’s version of the CDC — stressed “there is no evidence of long-range airborne transmission.”

The scientific definition of confusion is “airborne.”Covid matches the definition. Monkeypox doesn’t. The pox can ride a very short distance on spittle, but it doesn’t waft and linger in fine “aerosol”Mists are caused by breathing in and speaking like airborne Covid. 

The novel coronavirus can spread across a room with aerosols, or hover in the air for many hours. Our spit, however, is quick to fall to the ground just feet from our mouths. “Respiratory droplets may be able to spread the virus, but it is not what is fueling transmission,”Amesh Adalja is a Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security public-health expert. Instead, the pox spreads via close contact.

The bad news is we’re playing catch-up. And as that initially undetected earlier outbreak indicates, we’re not even sure how far behind we are. It’s not enough to contain and treat the pox in people. It is also important to stop the pox spreading to rats, hamsters, and other animals. 

In Africa, Monkeypox flares up regularly. It originated in Africa in 1970 and spread from rodents or monkeys to humans in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But it rarely infects more than a couple thousand people a year — During its longest outbreak in the DRC, it killed only 33 people between 1981-86.

When monkeypox spreads in places it’s not already endemic outside Africa, health officials perk up. After being exposed to rodents from Ghana and Texas, 47 Americans contracted the disease in 2003. A rapid response by state and federal health officials — and a few doses of smallpox vaccine — It prevented the deaths of anyone and temporarily ended the spread of the virus in the U.S.

The bigger of the Current outbreaks began in early May, apparently triggered by a U.K. traveler’s exposure to an infected person or animal in Nigeria. The virus spread quickly by close physical contact and was able to hitchhike to Europe. David Heymann, who formerly headed the World Health Organization’s emergencies department, said that men attending raves in Spain and Belgium “amplified” the outbreak — apparently through kissing and rubbing skin. 

After that, the virus was accompanied by travelers on flights to far-flung countries. On June 2, the WHO Tallied780 cases of pox in 27 countries. The number of cases has risen to 1,400 since then. On May 27, health officials in the United States diagnosed the first case. 

Effective Friday The pox was confirmed in 49 people in 16 states and Washington, D.C.. The CDC suspects some of those cases are the result of an earlier outbreak that officials didn’t even notice until the later outbreak caused them to go back and take a closer look at some patients’ symptoms. 

Pox rashes are similar to symptoms of other diseases like STIs and sexually-transmitted infection. That earlier pox outbreak apparently slipped past medical professionals because they didn’t necessarily know what they were looking at. “These monkeypox cases outside of the endemic area have likely been smoldering along for some time, misdiagnosed as traditional STIs,”Adalja is a public health expert.

Experts are concerned by the delay in diagnosing pox cases. Each day that passes between current pox outbreaks increases the likelihood of it being transmitted to pets and other pests. We might never be able to eradicate the pox if it becomes an epidemic in our animal population. Countries like the U.S., which once had only a few pox epidemics every 20 years, could now experience more severe and frequent outbreaks. This is similar to what happens in Africa.

That’s the worst-case scenario, but authorities can’t contain an outbreak they don’t even know is happening. It’s a troubling sign that, in the third year of a devastating pandemic, doctors, health officials and  epidemiologists overlooked that earlier pox outbreak, giving the virus a head start in the race toward endemicity in animals. “I think we are dramatically under-testing, under-ascertaining cases and underestimating risk,”” James Lawler, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Nebraska Medicine Center. “We apparently didn’t learn very much from Covid.”

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