Tag Archives: Smallpox

Over 560 Monkeypox Cases Confirmed In 25 Countries!

Over 560 Monkeypox Cases Confirmed In 25 Countries!

Over 560 monkeypox cases have now been confirmed in at least 25 countries outside of Africa!

Find out if the monkeypox outbreak could become a new pandemic we have to worry about!

 

Over 560 Monkeypox Cases Confirmed In 25 Countries!

People are now worried about the rapid spread of monkeypox globally. although the WHO has said that it is unlikely to become a pandemic like COVID-19.

Discovered in 1958, the first human infection was only reported in 1970, and there were only like 400 cases from 1970 to 1986.

Monkeypox became more common over time, with 2000 cases per year reported between 2011 and 2014, and several outbreaks in the US (2003 and 2021), UK (2018 and 2021), and Singapore (2019)..

However, nothing has come close to the 2022 monkeypox outbreak which has now affected at least 25 countries outside of Africa, with over 560 cases!

Country Confirmed
Cases
Suspected
Cases
Total
United Kingdom 179 179
Spain 120 120
Portugal 96 96
Canada 26 37 63
Germany 33 33
Netherlands 26 26
France 17 17
United States 15 15
Italy 14 14
Belgium 9 9
Czech Republic 5 5
Switzerland 4 4
UAE 4 4
Sweden 3 3
Ireland 2 1 3
Argentina 2 2
Australia 2 2
Denmark 2 2
Israel 2 2
Slovenia 2 2
Austria 1 1
Finland 1 1
Malta 1 1
Mexico 1 1
Thailand 1 1
TOTAL 568 56 617

 

Monkeypox Cases May Increase, But Unlikely To Become Pandemic

On 30 May 2022, the World Health Organisation’s top monkeypox expert, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, gave a public briefing on the 2022 monkeypox outbreak.

Here is a summary of the key points Dr. Lewis shared in that public session :

  • She does not expect the monkeypox outbreak to turn into another pandemic like COVID-19.
  • There are still many unknowns about this outbreak, including how exactly it is spreading.
  • The suspension of mass smallpox immunisation decades ago may have resulted in increased transmission.
  • Vast majority of current cases seen in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
  • There is a higher proportion of people with fewer visible lesions that are more concentrated in the genital region, and sometimes nearly impossible to see. This is a danger because they are infectious even though their lesions are not visible.
  • There is a window of opportunity to shut down the outbreak so it does not become endemic in new areas.

Fortunately, the 2022 monkeypox outbreak appears to be of the less virulent West African strain, because there is no proven treatment.

The smallpox vaccine can offer up to 85% protection against monkeypox, and certain antiviral treatments can be attempted.

But otherwise – hospitals can only offer supportive treatment as the patient isolates for 2-4 weeks until the disease resolves.

Read more : What You Must Know About Monkeypox!

Monkeypox primarily spreads through close contact, but can spread through respiratory droplets. However, it is far less contagious and is not airborne like COVID-19.

Infected people are also not considered contagious until they start showing symptoms, which limits transmission. This is unlike COVID-19 which is often spread by people who are asymptomatic.

The best way to describe its ability to infect people would be to understand its R0 (Reproduction Number, pronounced as R naught) – how many people an infected person is expected to pass the disease along to.

The ancestral COVID-19 virus has an R0 of between 2 to 3, which increased to 8 with the Omicron variant. That’s really contagious – every infected person will (on average) transmit the virus to 8 other people.

On the other hand, past outbreaks of monkeypox had an R0 of less than one. That means even though there may be clusters of several cases, even outbreaks, the cases die out on their own.

Virus R0
Measles 12 to 18
Omicron COVID-19 8
Smallpox 5 to 7
Ancestral COVID-19 2 to 3
H1N1 (2009) 1.5 to 2.5
Monkeypox <1

Monkeypox fortunately does not spread very efficiently between humans. Generally, you need to have skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or come into contact with his/her bodily fluids, to get infected.

The people most at risk would be close contacts of the infected person, like family members or healthcare workers taking care of them.

Transmission is really happening from close physical contact, skin-to-skin contact. It’s quite different from COVID in that sense.
– Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Infectious Disease Epidemiologist

It’s not as highly transmissible as something like smallpox, or measles, or certainly not Covid. It does not spread easily from person to person, the risk to the general public is low.
– Anne Rimoin, infectious disease epidemiologist at University of California.

That is why it is very unlikely to become a pandemic, although if it spreads to susceptible rodent populations, it could become endemic in those areas.

There is also the fact that the monkeypox is so closely related to the smallpox virus, the smallpox vaccine offers 85% protection against monkeypox infections.

In fact, one smallpox vaccine – JYNNEOS – was approved in the United States to serve as protection against monkeypox. Even though there is no public access to this vaccine, that can quickly change.

Several countries, including the United States, have strategic reserves of smallpox vaccines, which can be deployed in a monkeypox outbreak.

Countries have also started purchasing smallpox vaccines :

  • 19 May 2022 : Spain’s Ministry of Health announced that it was in the process of purchasing thousands of doses of smallpox vaccines
  • 24 May 2022 : CDC announced that the US is in the process of releasing some JYNNEOS smallpox vaccine doses for people who are “high risk”.
  • 25 May 2022 : the German government announced that it was buying 40,000 doses of the JYNNEOS smallpox vaccine from Bavarian Nordic.
  • 26 May 2022 : the UK Health Security Agency announced that it purchased 20,000 doses of the JYNNEOS smallpox vaccine from Bavarian Nordic.

 

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Is Monkeypox Outbreak From Lab Strain Made In Ukraine?!

Is the current monkeypox outbreak from a lab strain made in Ukraine?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : Monkeypox Outbreak Is From Lab Strain Made In Ukraine!

People are sharing tweets by a Dr. Benjamin Braddock who claimed that the 2022 monkeypox outbreak is from a “third lab strain” made by the US in Ukraine!

ECDC source tells me that the preliminary analysis of monkeypox indicates that it is “a third lab strain with unknown characteristics” and that there is chatter about this being somehow related to Moscow’s charges against U.S. biological activities in Ukraine.

A Russian-Chinese joint task force has been tasked with establishing: where it originated, whether it is detectable in research conducted by the US in Ukraine, Georgia; whether there is a link to biological research conducted by the US on smallpox in Ukraine.

Main ECDC focus right now is on buying up as much of BN’s vaccine as possible. “They’re buying before they know whether it is even effective against this strain of monkeypox. I wouldn’t be surprised if they skipped testing it’s efficacy altogether.”

 

Truth : Monkeypox Outbreak Is Not From Lab Strain Made In Ukraine!

This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS being created and shared by people on social media, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : There Is No Third Lab Strain

The monkeypox virus has two clades, based on where they were commonly found – Congo Basin (Central Africa), and West Africa.

There is no such thing as a third lab strain or species or clade of the monkeypox virus.

Fact #2 : Strain Is A Subset Of Species

While it is impossible to prove what does not exist (Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy), the claim that there is “a third lab strain” shows that the person creating the fake news does not know the difference between strain, species and clade.

In virology, a clade is technically a group of species that arose from a common ancestor, of which each species may give rise to different strains (sub-species).

Credit : Galaxy Advanced Microbial Diagnostics

If there is a new strain, it would not have been called “a third lab strain”. It would have just been called a new strain.

The introduction of the word “third” implies that the fake news creator believes that clade = strain, which is completely false.

Obviously, the fake news creator does not know much about virology, and is very unlikely to be working at the ECDC.

Fact #3 : 2022 Monkeypox Outbreak From West African Clade

Neither the European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control (ECDC) or other health authorities like the US CDC has announced the discovery of a new strain or clade of the monkeypox virus.

In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated on 21 May 2022, that all cases in the 2022 monkeypox outbreaks have been confirmed to involve the “West African clade“.

Fact #4 : No Evidence Current Virus Was Lab Made

Again, it is impossible to prove what does not exist – that the current monkeypox virus was not made in the lab. However, all the evidence points to a natural source of this virus.

Not only is the 2022 monkeypox virus is from an existing clade, genomic sequencing also indicated that this current virus was a close match of the monkeypox virus that were “exported” from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Israel and Singapore in 2018 and 2019.

In other words – all of the evidence so far point us to a natural variant of an existing monkeypox virus that had already caused several outbreaks in the past.

Read more : Monkeypox Outbreak In 20 Countries : Is It A New Pandemic?

Fact #5 : US Does Not Have Biological Labs In Ukraine

Braddock is repeating the oft-debunked false claim that the US has biological labs in Ukraine.

The truth is – they are Ukrainian biological laboratories, some of which receive financial and other support from the US, the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This is not unique to Ukraine – biological labs in many countries receive similar support from the US, EU and the WHO.

Fact #6 : US Sponsored Biological Threat Reduction In Ukraine

US sponsorship of biological labs in former Soviet Union countries like Ukraine go back decades, and is centred around the Biological Threat Reduction Program.

As the name implies, the program aims to train and equip the partner nation to detect and prevent the threat of infectious diseases, whether they are deliberate, accidental or natural.

The program aims to counter biological threats in a partner country, at the source, before the threat can reach the homeland of impact U.S. Armed Forces or allies.

The program also prevents proliferation by cooperating with partner countries to eliminate their biological weapons, associated materials, and production facilities.

Fact #7 : Biological Labs Are Essential To All Countries

Biological labs do not conduct biological warfare research, because that is banned in 183 countries under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

Instead, they are on the forefront of a country’s biosecurity defences, and are absolutely essential in developing tests and cures (including vaccines) for new and emerging diseases, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

In fact, both Russia and China have a number of biological labs, including the famous Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is located right at the epicentre of the first COVID-19 outbreak.

It is therefore misleading for anyone to demonise biological labs. After all, they are ESSENTIAL to every country’s national security, including their own.

Read more : Does US Have Biological Warfare Labs In South Korea?!

Fact #8 : There Is No Russian-Chinese Task Force

Braddock claimed that a Russian-Chinese task force was formed to find out where the monkeypox outbreaks originated, or whether it is “detectable in research conducted by the US in Ukraine / Georgia”.

Again, it is impossible to prove what does not exist, but we know that this is a false claim because :

  • Braddock offered no evidence for the formation of such a Russian-Chinese task force.
  • The 2022 monkeypox outbreak did not affect either Russia or China, so they have no access to any samples.
  • The US did not conduct any biological research in Ukraine or Georgia.
  • Smallpox is closely related to monkeypox, but is a completely different virus.

A Russian-Chinese joint task force has been tasked with establishing: where it originated, whether it is detectable in research conducted by the US in Ukraine, Georgia; whether there is a link to biological research conducted by the US on smallpox in Ukraine.

Fact #9 : JYNNEOS Was Tested Against Monkeypox

The monkeypox and smallpox viruses are so closely related that the smallpox vaccine has been used for years to protect against monkeypox and other orthopoxviruses.

The earlier ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine has been largely replaced by the JYNNEOS vaccine (also called Imvamune / Imvanex), which was proven to be at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

In fact, it was licensed in 2019 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox.

And again, the monkeypox virus causing the 2022 outbreak is a close match of the Western Africa clade monkeypox virus that caused the 2018 and 2019 outbreaks.

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Monkeypox Outbreak In 20 Countries : Is It A New Pandemic?

The Monkeypox outbreak has been confirmed in at least 20 countries outside of Africa!

Find out what Monkeypox is all about, and whether it is a new pandemic we have to worry about!

 

Monkeypox Outbreak : Is It A Pandemic Risk?

People are now worried about the rapid spread of monkeypox globally.

Discovered in 1958, the first human infection was only reported in 1970, and there were only like 400 cases from 1970 to 1986.

However, it became more common over time, with 2000 cases per year reported between 2011 and 2014.

There were also several outbreaks in the US (2003 and 2021), UK (2018 and 2021), and Singapore (2019), but nothing matched the latest 2022 outbreak.

As of 25 May 2022, there were 230 confirmed cases in at least 20 countries outside of Africa, and suspected cases in two other countries.

Country Confirmed
Cases
Suspected
Cases
Total
Argentina 1 1
Australia 2 2
Austria 1 1
Belgium 6 1 7
Canada 15 1 16
Czech Republic 1 1
Denmark 2 2
Finland 1 1
France 5 5
Germany 5 5
Israel 1 1
Italy 6 2 8
Morocco 3 3
Netherlands 6 6
Portugal 49 49
Slovenia 1 1
Spain 51 43 94
Sweden 1 1
Switzerland 2 2
UAE 1 1
United Kingdom 71 71
United States 2 6 8
TOTAL 230 56 286

 

Monkeypox Outbreak : More Deadly, Unlikely To Cause A Pandemic

Monkeypox is more deadly than COVID-19, with mortality as high as 10% depending on the strain :

  • West African strain : 1% to 3%
  • Central African strain : 10%

Fortunately, the 2022 monkeypox outbreak appears to be of the less virulent West African strain, because there is no proven treatment.

The smallpox vaccine can offer up to 85% protection against monkeypox, and certain antiviral treatments can be attempted.

But otherwise – hospitals can only offer supportive treatment as the patient isolates for 2-4 weeks until the disease resolves.

Read more : What You Must Know About Monkeypox!

Monkeypox primarily spreads through close contact, but can spread through respiratory droplets. However, it is far less contagious and is not airborne like COVID-19.

Infected people are also not considered contagious until they start showing symptoms, which limits transmission. This is unlike COVID-19 which is often spread by people who are asymptomatic.

The best way to describe its ability to infect people would be to understand its R0 (Reproduction Number, pronounced as R naught) – how many people an infected person is expected to pass the disease along to.

The ancestral COVID-19 virus has an R0 of between 2 to 3, which increased to 8 with the Omicron variant. That’s really contagious – every infected person will (on average) transmit the virus to 8 other people.

On the other hand, past outbreaks of monkeypox had an R0 of less than one. That means even though there may be clusters of several cases, even outbreaks, the cases die out on their own.

Virus R0
Measles 12 to 18
Omicron COVID-19 8
Smallpox 5 to 7
Ancestral COVID-19 2 to 3
H1N1 (2009) 1.5 to 2.5
Monkeypox <1

Monkeypox fortunately does not spread very efficiently between humans. Generally, you need to have skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or come into contact with his/her bodily fluids, to get infected.

The people most at risk would be close contacts of the infected person, like family members or healthcare workers taking care of them.

Transmission is really happening from close physical contact, skin-to-skin contact. It’s quite different from COVID in that sense.
– Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Infectious Disease Epidemiologist

It’s not as highly transmissible as something like smallpox, or measles, or certainly not Covid. It does not spread easily from person to person, the risk to the general public is low.
– Anne Rimoin, infectious disease epidemiologist at University of California.

That is why it is very unlikely to become a pandemic, even though it is really abnormal for so many outbreaks to occur simultaneously.

There is also the fact that the monkeypox is so closely related to the smallpox virus, the smallpox vaccine offers 85% protection against monkeypox infections.

In fact, one smallpox vaccine – JYNNEOS – was approved in the United States to serve as protection against monkeypox. Even though there is no public access to this vaccine, that can quickly change.

Several countries, including the United States, have strategic reserves of smallpox vaccines, which can be deployed in a monkeypox outbreak.

We have already worked to secure sufficient supply of effective treatments and vaccines to prevent those exposed from contracting monkeypox and treating people who’ve been affected.
– Dr. Raj Panjabi, White House Pandemic Office.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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Monkeypox : What You Must Know About This Viral Infection!

zFind out what Monkeypox is all about, and whether it is a new viral infection we have to worry about!

 

Monkeypox : What You Need To Know

People are now worried about the rapid spread of monkeypox globally, with cases in at least 20 countries outside of Africa.

Here are some facts about monkeypox that you should know…

Monkeypox Is Different From COVID-19

First, let me just clearly state this – the monkeypox virus is completely different from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

The monkeypox virus is a double-stranded DNA virus from the Orthopoxvirus genus in the Poxviridae family. It is closely related to the smallpox virus (variola)

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a single-stranded RNA virus from the Betacoronavirus genus in the Coronaviridae family. It is closely related to the SARS virus (SARS-CoV-1).

Monkeypox Is A Zoonotic Disease

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease that is primarily carried and spread by animals, especially primates.

It was first discovered in monkeys in 1958, giving rise to the name – monkeypox. The first human case was only reported in 1970.

Monkeypox Is Getting More Common

The monkeypox virus used to be a relatively rare zoonotic virus, with about 400 human infections reported from 1970 to 1986 that were mostly limited to Central and West Africa.

It is becoming more common though, with 2000 cases per year reported between 2011 and 2014. Several small outbreaks in the US (2003 and 2021), UK (2018 and 2021), and Singapore (2019) were also reported.

In the current 2022 outbreak, over 200 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in 21 countries.

 

Monkeypox : Transmission, Mortality + Disease Progression

Monkeypox Transmission

The monkeypox virus are generally transmitted through these methods :

  • animal-to-human : close contact, scratches or bites, or direct contact with bodily fluids
  • human-to-human : respiratory droplets or contact with bodily fluids or fomites (contaminated surfaces)

The virus enters the body through broken skin and the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Risk factors for human transmission include sharing the same bed or room with an infected person, as well as having sexual intercourse or sharing utensils.

Read more : Monkeypox Outbreak In 20 Countries : Is It A New Pandemic?

Monkeypox Mortality Rate

Monkeypox is not as easily transmitted as COVID-19, but has a significantly higher mortality rate depending on the strain :

  • West African strain : 1% to 3%
  • Central African strain : 10%

Fortunately, the infections in the 2022 monkeypox outbreak are of the less virulent West African strain.

How A Monkeypox Infection Progresses

After infection, the incubation period is usually 7-14 days, but can vary from 5-21 days.

The patient will start experiencing general symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Within 1-3 days though, the patient will develop lesions in the mouth, before they appear on the face and then spread to other parts of the body.

  • The first lesions appear on the tongue and in the mouth
  • A macular rash (flat, discoloured) then appears on the face, before spreading to the arms and legs and then hands and feet.
  • The macular rash will typically spread to the entire body within 24 hours, but is most concentrated on the face, arms and legs.
  • By the third day of the rash, the lesions will develop into elevated and palpable papules.
  • By the fourth to fifth day of the rash, the lesions will become fluid-filled vesicles.
  • By the sixth to seventh day, the vesicles will become pustular (filled with pus).
  • The pustules will be round and firm, with a depression in the centre, for the next 5-7 days.
  • By the end of the second week, the pustules will scab over for about a week before falling off.

Only after ALL of the scabs have fallen off is a person considered no longer contagious.

After the scabs have fallen off, the affected skin may appear pale before becoming dark marks, sometimes becoming pitted scars.

 

Monkeypox : Testing, Treatment + Prevention

Monkeypox Testing

Confirmation of a monkeypox infection is based on the detection of its viral DNA through real-time or conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

The doctor will swab the lesions and/or exudate and/or crusts, which is different from how samples are collected for COVID-19 tests.

Monkeypox Treatment

There is currently no proven treatment for monkeypox infections, which will generally resolve over 2-4 weeks.

Patient care is usually supportive in nature (antipyretic medicine, fluid balance and oxygenation), but in severe cases, several antiviral treatments can be attempted :

  • Cidofovir and Brincidofovir (CMX001), which have proven activity against poxviruses in laboratory and animal studies.
  • Tecovirimat (ST-246), which was shown in animal studies to be effective in treating orthopoxvirus-induced disease.
  • Vaccinia Immune Globulin (VIG)

I should point out that none of these antiviral treatments have been proven to work against monkeypox.

Smallpox Vaccine Can Protect Against Monkeypox

The monkeypox virus is so closely related to the (eradicated) smallpox virus, that the smallpox vaccine can protect against monkeypox.

The smallpox vaccine called JYNNEOS (Imvamune / Imvanex) was earlier proven to be at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, and was thus licensed for use against monkeypox. Another smallpox vaccine called ACAM2000 may also be used.

The smallpox vaccine can also be given to those who were just exposed to the virus, to reduce its symptoms.

But please do NOT call up your local clinic to ask for the smallpox vaccine. It has not been available in many countries for decades because smallpox was effectively eradicated in 1980.

Other Preventive Measures

In the absence of the smallpox vaccine, the same measures used to avoid COVID-19 can be adopted to also avoid monkeypox :

  • Avoid contact with animals that can harbour the virus, particular animals that are sick or have been found dead
  • Avoid contact with infected monkeypox patients and their close contacts
  • Avoid contact with objects or surfaces that have been in contact with a sick person / animal
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) while caring for patients – N95 face mask, face shield, etc.
  • Practice good hand hygiene, washing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser

Monkeypox Isolation

Monkeypox patients must be isolated either in a hospital or at home, until all lesions are clear with a fresh layer of skin.

Close contact with other people should be avoided until all scabs have dropped off, which usually takes 2-4 weeks.

I hope you found this article useful. Please share it with your family and friends, and support our work! Thank you!

 

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Support my work through a bank transfer /  PayPal / credit card!

Name : Adrian Wong
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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