A genetic analysis of the monkeypox virus by researchers from different countries shows that the infection has been circulating among humans since 2018.
This was reported by Ukrinform with reference to The New York Times.
According to Trevor Bedford, a biologist at the Seattle Cancer Research Center, the information available to date indicates that at some point in the past few years, approximately since 2018, the virus began to spread among people.
Apparently, he passed to people from rodents – African rope squirrels, striped mice and dormouse, Gambian marsupial rats, rust-nosed rats and hedgehogs.
As of Wednesday, the US has 156 cases across 23 states and the capital. Globally, the total number of confirmed cases has surpassed 3,400, with another 3,500 awaiting confirmation, triple the number from two weeks ago.
In Africa, eight countries had over 1,500 cases and 72 deaths as of June 10, most in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Monkeypox is a large double-stranded DNA virus, about seven times the size of the coronavirus. Since 2018, it has undergone an unexpectedly large number of mutations – about 50.
Of the 48 mutations found in the UK, 21 may affect the spread of the disease, the severity of the disease and the ability to respond to a drug called tecovirimat used for treatment.
Some experts have warned over the years that the eradication of smallpox in 1980 left the world vulnerable to the entire poxvirus family and increased the likelihood of monkeypox becoming an active human pathogen.
The UK’s experience shows how difficult contact tracing can be for a sexually transmitted virus, in particular in cases where those infected have had multiple anonymous partners.
It is noted that many cases in Africa are associated with human contact with wild animals or the use of animal products for medical or cultural purposes.