Time for vigilance-Increased testing and building awareness, not stigmatisation, can stop spread of monkeypox

Source: The post is based on the article “Time for vigilance-Increased testing and building awareness, not stigmatisation, can stop spread of monkeypox” published in The Hindu on 16th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Awareness in the fields of biotechnology.

Relevance: To understand the spread of Monkeypox.

News: India reported its first laboratory-confirmed, imported case of monkeypox virus from Kerala. To cut the transmission chain, people who have come in contact with him in Kerala have been isolated.

What is monkeypox?
Must read: Explained: What is monkeypox, a smallpox-like disease from Africa that has been reported in the UK?

The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the virus became endemic in 11 countries in Africa causing small outbreaks.

What is the significance of the recent monkeypox spread?

The first case of the virus outside Africa was first reported in the U.K. in May 2022. Since then, the virus has spread to over 63 countries.

With cases crossing the 10,000-mark in non-endemic countries, and numerous cases in Spain (2,034), the U.K. (1,735), Germany (1,556) and the U.S. (1,470), the risk of the virus becoming established in some of these countries are becoming increasingly real.

Further, for the first time, the virus has spread to more than a hundred people a year during any outbreak in endemic countries except Congo.

How does the virus spreading so rapidly?

The rapid increase in cases and geographical spread have primarily been due to human-to-human transmission largely during sexual contact, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Few dance parties in Spain and Belgium have turned out to be super-spreader events.

According to the WHO, “undetected transmission for some unknown duration followed by recent amplifier events” to be responsible for cases being detected simultaneously in several countries outside Africa.

Read more: Health Ministry issues norms to tackle monkeypox
What are the findings about Monkeypox so far?

No attempts were made to study Monkeypox all these years, as the virus is endemic in 11 countries in Africa and causes only small outbreaks.

But the recent studies have found that,

-The virus appears to mutate at a much higher rate than what was assumed.

-Based on genome sequences from the current outbreak, the virus has found the emergence of a novel clade of the virus in early March.

-Monkeypox virus DNA has been found in samples of semen, saliva, urine, rectal swabs and faeces at high viral loads.

So increased testing, contact tracing and building awareness, and not stigmatising the infected people alone can stop the spread.

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