What researchers know and what they do not know about monkeys

What is a monkey flower?

The monkey flower is a virus that is spread from some animals – rodents and primates – to humans, say researchers. It is often recognized as a skin lesion and can cause other symptoms including fever and swollen glands.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are concerned about the recent spread of the virus outside the few countries where it is endemic.

The CDC reported nearly 900 cases in Europe and 30 cases in the US

Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads the World Health Organization’s Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses teams, said last week that it is likely that human-to-human transmission has been going on for weeks, if not months. “We need to act quickly,” he said.

Where is it endemic?

The virus has been found in West and Central Africa for decades – including Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, C კოte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The researchers said better monitoring was needed to determine if the virus was endemic but unnoticed in other nearby countries.

In some endemic countries, such as Nigeria, there has been an increase in cases in recent years, with researchers pointing to a decline in immunity to chickenpox and climate change – leading to more contact with animals – as likely causes of the increase.

How is it spread?

At this point, experts believe that prolonged contact with the skin is the key to transmission – and note that the monkey flower does not spread as quickly and as easily as Covid-19 or other airborne viruses.

Is it deadly?

There are two groups of monkey viruses called clades: the West African clade is a milder form of the virus, while the Central African clade causes a more severe disease and is considered more contagious. According to WHO. The geographical division between the two clans was in Cameroon, the only country where both clans were present.

Outside of endemic countries, monkey flower mortality has not been reported to date. The West African clan, which is responsible for the ongoing epidemic outside the endemic countries, has a mortality rate of less than 3 percent. The mortality rate for the Central African clan may be higher, ranging from 1 to 10 per cent of the estimated cases. But Warned the WHO That these rates are based on infections in young people in African countries compared to the West.

What vaccines are there for monkeypox?

There are several vaccines that can protect against monkeypox – though some were originally designed for chickenpox.

The FDA approved the emergent single-dose ACAM2000 vaccine against chickenpox in 2007, and the 2019 Nordic dual-dose Jynneos vaccine for the prevention of chickenpox and monkeypox in adults in 2019. But ACAM2000 can cause serious side effects such as inflammation of the heart or brain, blindness and fetal death; According to the FDASo the use of the vaccine is limited.

As for Jynneos, the Bavarian Nordic asked the FDA to approve it only for chickenpox, but the agency also approved it for monkeypox because the two viruses belong to the same family and one of the vaccines offered for cross-protection, said Marion Gruber, vice president. Public Health and Regulatory Science at IAVI, a nonprofit research organization.

While the United States and other countries have large stockpiles of chickenpox vaccines, their side effects and other risks have led to new vaccines – now in relatively small stock – far outnumbering hundreds of millions of old doses.

Will I need to get vaccinated against monkeypox?

Probably not. While injections are a key tool in stopping the spread of the disease, World Health Organization officials have said that vaccinations should only be given to those who are infected or at high risk.

What treatment is there?

Researchers say there are several antiviral variants of monkey flower.

They said Tecovirimat is a strong candidate, although taking it early, less than six days after exposure, is needed, according to existing studies. The drug was found to be safe but could not be taken with some medicines and was authorized in the EU for chickenpox and monkeypox. The FDA has approved the drug for chickenpox. However, researchers worry that viruses may become resistant to the drug in the future.

Brincidofovir is another candidate, although it has not been approved by the EU. It has FDA-approved animal-based chickenpox approval, allowing the drug to be approved by animal research data when human studies are considered unethical.

What do we not yet know?

It is unknown which animals carry and spread the virus. Researchers will also focus on understanding the causes of unpredictable transmission and new hotspots.

Even some of the key characteristics of the monkey flower – which treatment works best, how the virus spreads and how severe the disease can become – require further research.

What researchers know and what they do not know about monkeys

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