Researchers wrote that 50 mutations observed were ‘far more than one would expect considering the estimated substitution rate for orthopoxviruses’.
Virologists who have obtained samples of the monkeypox virus that is now breaking out in spots across the globe say that their analysis shows the pathogen is a “hyper-mutated” strain.
Portuguese virologists, tasked with conducting Covid-like studies to trace the virus’s evolution, claim the strain currently circulating is very similar to one that cropped up in Britain four years ago.
But samples taken from a handful of patients struck down in the fresh outbreak suggest the virus has collated an extra 50 mutations.
Researchers wrote that this was ‘far more than one would expect considering the estimated substitution rate for orthopoxviruses’. They also warned that an ‘evolutionary jump’ — like with the Covid Omicron strain — may have created a ‘hyper-mutated virus’.
Personally, I would hope researchers would attempt to track down patient zero for this strain and ascertain its origins. However, such queries would likely be deemed “stigmatizing“.
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) assures us the virus has not mutated.
The World Health Organization does not have evidence that the monkeypox virus has mutated, a senior executive at the U.N. agency said on Monday, noting the infectious disease that has been endemic in west and central Africa has tended not to change.
Rosamund Lewis, head of the smallpox secretariat that is part of the WHO Emergencies Programme, told a briefing that mutations tended to be typically lower with this virus, although genome sequencing of cases will help inform understanding of the current outbreak.
Given our recent experience with WHO’s actions during the covid pandemic, I know who I am choosing to believe at this point.
Meanwhile, 3 countries that have never reported monkeypox cases before in their history have now added to the tally of global infections.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has became the first Gulf state to record a case of monkeypox.
The Czech Republic and Slovenia also reported their first cases on Tuesday, joining 18 other countries to detect the virus outside its usual Africa base.
That number is expected to rise further still, but experts say the overall risk to the general population remains low.
Outbreaks of the virus have been found in Europe, Australia and America.
The symptoms often include a fever and rash – but the infection is usually mild.
In the UAE, health officials announced a case had been detected in a traveller who had recently visited west Africa and is now receiving medical treatment.
Back in the United States, over 200 people are being monitored after exposure to the Massachusetts individual who came down with the disease.
Dr Jennifer McQuiston, a deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said most of the exposed were healthcare workers, although a few were also ‘personal’ contacts of the patient.
But she added it was difficult to spread monkeypox because it typically requires sustained physical touch, pointing out that many contacts are usually negative.
The infectious diseases expert revealed the tally at a briefing this afternoon, where she also warned the virus may have been spreading un-detected for months.
During the briefing experts also warned many of the recent patients had infectious skin lesions in the genital area, which could be mistaken for a bad case of herpes.
America now has one confirmed and four suspected cases of the disease — endemic to west Africa — in the global outbreak, all in men and linked to international travel. Globally, there are more than 100 cases, mostly in Europe.
The US is now responding to a request for the release of monkeypox vaccine from the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile .
“I can report that there has been a request for release of the Jynneos vaccine from the National Stockpile for some of the high-risk contacts of some of the early patients, so that is actively happening right now,” Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology within the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said Monday.
McQuiston said the United States has a “good stock” of vaccine because it has been preparing for the possibility of needing to use doses for smallpox.
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