Monkeypox: ‘This is an entirely new spread of the disease’ | Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

The term “monkeypox” was coined when the virus was first identified in captive primates (in Denmark back in 1958), but in nature, the virus is most often found in squirrels and other rodents. In 1970, the first human case of monkeypox was documented in a nine-month-old child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, amid increasing efforts in the campaign to eradicate smallpox.

Children who have been infected with monkeypox are more likely to experience complications and therefore have a higher fatality rate than adults. It is also assumed that immunocompromised individuals (particularly those who are HIV-positive) have a higher risk of developing a severe form of the disease, but there is not enough data yet to know this for certain. During the 2017-18 Nigerian outbreak, four out of seven people who died from the disease were HIV-positive.

As of 6th June, 1,000 cases had been detected in at least 30 different countries, worldwide, with the largest number of cases located in the United Kingdom (287 confirmed), Spain (189 confirmed), Portugal (143 confirmed). French authorities have reported 51 confirmed cases. For now, all of the recorded infections outside of Africa have been mild. Only a few patients have been hospitalised and no death or vital threat has been reported. A non-negligible proportion of cases were reported among HIV+ patients.

That said, these local circulations of the disease are unprecedented. Another new aspect is that the cases have almost exclusively been reported among young males, primarily among homosexual men (in the UK, the authorities emphasised that “currently most cases have been in men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men”). Only six suspected and confirmed women were declared in Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States and United Arab Emirates. These last two women were not linked to the European cluster following mass gathering events, but returned from Western Africa, suggesting something is up with the Nigerian epidemic that is exporting the virus.


Source: Monkeypox: ‘This is an entirely new spread of the disease’ | Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance