Monkeypox virus: Know what it is, how it spreads, what causes it

Monkeypox is transmitted to humans from wild animals. It is transmitted from an infected human to a healthy human, as well, by contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

“The route of infection can be percutaneous, through bites or scratches of infected animals or during manipulation of infected material, or via respiratory or mucosal routes,” says a research report.

The UKSHA has emphasized on the lower probability of human transmission of monkeypox. “It is important to emphasise that monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low,” says Dr Colin Brown, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections, UKHSA. Research studies have established that human to human transmission of monkeypox virus accounts for 10–30% of cases.

In the African region, the spread of the infection is related to the hunting, skinning, preparing, and eating of infected rodents and monkeys and in the USA outbreak the chief reasons were importation of infected prairie dogs to be commercialized as pets.

On the 2003 monkeypox outbreak, the US CDC explains that the shipment of animals from Ghana, imported to Texas in April 2003, consisted of 800 small species of mammals which included six different types of rodents like rope squirrels, tree squirrels, African giant pouched rats, brush-tailed porcupines, dormice, and striped mice. “CDC laboratory testing showed that two African giant pouched rats, nine dormice, and three rope squirrels were infected with monkeypox virus. After importation into the United States, some of the infected animals were housed near prairie dogs at the facilities of an Illinois animal vendor. These prairie dogs were sold as pets before they developed signs of infection,” the US CDC explains.

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