Study suggests modern monkeypox cases may have new epidemiological characteristics – ScienceDaily


Since May 2022, cases of monkeypox have increased globally, raising fears of a new pandemic. A study published in the open access journal Pathogens PLOS On September 22, Professor Soha King and colleagues at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon, provided combined descriptions of its clinical characteristics, risk factors, infection control and prevention measures, as well as potential treatments.

Historically, monkeypox was mostly confined to endemic areas of West and Central Africa and was mostly transmitted through contact with infected animals. However, human-to-human transmission has recently become the primary mode of transmission, raising fears of an undiscovered former community spread. To better understand the epidemiological landscape of this emerging outbreak, the authors conducted a literature review of the available evidence on monkeypox. They found that during the current outbreak, confirmed, probable, and/or probable monkeypox cases increased tenfold in more than seventy-six countries. The data indicate an increase in the incidence of disease and improved surveillance potential. The current cases showed rapid human-to-human transmission, raising concerns of rapid community spread, although not necessarily related to travel to endemic areas in Africa.

The literature review has several limitations, including the small sample size of case studies and the absence of randomized controlled trials on monkeypox treatment, both of which limit generalizability. Larger and more robust studies are needed to determine the specific risk factors, modes of transmission, potential treatments, as well as the scope of the current outbreak.

According to the authors, “Major gap information needs further study to provide better answers such as the exact mode of transmission and the role of animal reservoirs. Routes of sexual transmission, genetic mutations, diminished immunity from smallpox, and previous undiscovered cases of monkeypox require further investigation. The Physicians also have to be mindful of atypical presentations and rely on WHO and CDC standards to guide patients and help contain outbreaks.”

Kang and co-authors add, “Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency that requires special attention and early diagnosis due to its widespread and atypical global presentation.”

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