Genetic data show that at least two separate monkeys are infected with smallpox, which means it is widespread.

THe said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that new genetic sequencing data showed that there were at least two different outbreaks of smallpox outside Africa – an unexpected discovery that has led to an unprecedented international spread and unprecedented length of time. coming up. understood.

Of the CDC’s 10 recent cases of smallpox in the United States, three – two in 2021 and eight in 2022 – are different from those listed by several countries in Europe and its major epidemics. Currently, the epidemic is caused by infections of gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men.

Although the three divergents are clearly related to each other and have a common ancestor, they are more different than other viruses, said Inger Damon, director of the CDC’s Department of Pathogens and Pathology of Highly Viral Viruses, in an interview with STAT. .


In all three cases, the infected people have been infected in an astonishing geographical range – one in Nigeria, one elsewhere in West Africa, and a third in the Middle East or East Africa. Damon admits that the spread of the virus – which is different from the European strain – means that the virus has been burning for longer than is thought to be the spread of smallpox outside countries that are considered endemic.

“I think that’s a very reasonable explanation,” he said.


“We think there may be a few recent inputs from Nigeria and there may be additional outbreaks around the world,” Damon said.

“The question is … are there reservoirs and human infections in the wider area? I think it’s really about understanding the Middle East and East Africa as potential areas where the virus is spreading. “

Public health officials have raised concerns about whether it is possible to stop the spread of smallpox, and Hans Kluge, director of the World Health Organization’s European office, acknowledged earlier this week that it was unclear whether the outbreak would be contagious.

When the monkey asked if he could stop the spread of smallpox, Damon refused.

“Everyone is really trying to look at the use of vaccines and the use of therapists in unlimited supply, including to try to understand what is happening and … to think about what public health tools can be used to prevent further spread.” ” he said. “I think it’s only under strict control and looking at what’s going on, we understand whether it’s something to hold on to or not.”

The CDC has previously uploaded four U.S. genetic sequences to an international shared database starting in 2022. As of Thursday, 21 cases from 11 states have been reported since the current epidemic was discovered.

On Friday, the CDC uploaded four more sequences this year, as well as two of the 2021 independent entries. The 2021 cases identified in July and November were people who traveled to Nigeria and returned to Texas and Maryland.

All recent cases in the United States have infected small African monkeys with smallpox, which is also responsible for Eastern Europe. The West African herd is less susceptible to the disease than the Congo Basin, which kills one in 10 infected people in Central African countries. The death rate in the West African class is low, about 1%. No deaths have been reported outside Africa this year.

Since mid-May, the UK’s health authorities have warned the world that the country is infected with the ape disease, with nearly 800 confirmed cases in some 40 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Australia.

According to Damon, the other seven viruses listed by the CDC are very similar to those reported by European scientists. “Because they’re really close together, we believe they’re all related to the same epidemic,” he said.

Damon said the new findings suggest that medical professionals should think of monkeys as smallpox when confronted with patients who have unusual ulcers or who appear to have a sexually transmitted infection.

“If you see an unusual rash, or something that looks like a sexually transmitted disease, like syphilis, like herpes, we need to think about testing for monkeys,” he said.

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