London, Europe Brief News – The World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but it’s not a disease that the general public has been familiar with.
Monkeypox has caught the world by surprise. It has long been a fixture in parts of central and western Africa where people live close to the forest animals that carry the virus.
But now it has gone global – it is spreading in ways that have not been seen before and on a scale that is unprecedented.
There have been nearly 27,000 confirmed cases of the disease – mostly in men having sex with other men – across 88 countries.
There’s nothing special about the biology of monkeypox virus. It is not an unstoppable force.
Covid probably was – it spreads so readily that it was arguably impossible to contain even in the earliest days of the pandemic.
But monkeypox has a harder time getting from one person to the next. It needs close physical contact – such as through infected skin, prolonged face-to-face contact or contaminated surfaces like a bedsheet or a towel.
The two viruses are simply in different leagues, and past monkeypox outbreaks have just fizzled out.
And we have already overcome the far greater challenge of defeating the virus’s deadly cousin, smallpox.
“Monkeypox is easier as it is less transmissible than smallpox so we’re in a much better position,” said Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham.
However, one issue is some people have mild symptoms or ones that can be easily mistake for a sexually transmitted disease or chickenpox. That means it can be unwittingly passed on to others.