Monkeypox virus mutating, posing new threats to public health – study

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Just as the coronavirus did during the pandemic, monkeypox virus (mpox) is starting to evolve into new, deadlier variants, according to a new study published on November 2.

The peer-reviewed research, published in the American Association for the Advancement of Sciencerecords how the mpox virus evolves into new lineages as a result of ongoing interactions with the human immune system.

“These observations of persistent MPXV transmission represent a fundamental shift to the observed paradigm of MPXV epidemiology as a zoonotic disease and highlight the need for revision of public health messaging surrounding MPXV, as well as outbreak management and control,” the authors explained .

In one of the study’s many shocking discoveries, the most dominant version of the mpox virus actually predates the coronavirus pandemic, and has been circulating among humans since 2016. However, Mpox has been circulating among humans since the 1970s.

Vials of monkeypox vaccine are pictured at a vaccination center in Nice, France, July 27, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/ERIC GAILLARD)

Although the virus has been around for some time, it was not until 2022 that the virus was discovered outside countries with endemic reservoirs. This was the first indication that the virus could spread between people, and not just from rodent to human. The study found that it was likely the prolonged period of interaction with the human immune system that allowed this evolutionary trait to develop.

The mpox virus is thought to be transmitted through contact with rodents, with cases commonly occurring in infants and young children.

Signs and symptoms of monkeypox

The World Health Organization reports that symptoms of monkeypox may include:

  • rash
  • fever
  • a sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle strain
  • backache
  • little energy
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • skin lesions of the palms and soles of the feet, face, mouth and throat, groin and genitals and anus.

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