The virus was first identified in monkeys in a lab in 1958
The virus has two clinical phases, first causing a fever, head and muscle aches, and other symptoms similar to influenza, followed by patients developing a rash on the face that will quickly spread, transforming to lesions (pictured) across the body. Photo courtesy U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Concerns about the monkeypox virus continue to grow as Canadian authorities investigate that country’s first-ever case and New York City deals with a new case of the zoonotic disease.
Since May 13, confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported to the World Health Organization from 12 of its member countries that are not endemic to the virus.
Those countries are part of three separate WHO regions.
The WHO said it is tracking 92 confirmed cases and 28 possible cases in 15 countries.
The current outbreak has been linked to the United States and United Kingdom.
President Joe Biden said Sunday that “everybody” should be alert to the recent outbreak of monkeypox cases in the United States and Europe.
“They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden told reporters.
“We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, may be available for it. But it is a concern in the sense that if it were to spread, it’s consequential.”
The disease was given its name after a pair of initial outbreaks within colonies of monkeys being used for medical research at a Danish laboratory in 1958.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in a child in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.
The disease remains most prominent in that country, but has been reported in a number of other West African nations, including Cameroon, Liberia and Nigeria.
Typically, the disease is zoonotic, meaning its is spread from an animal carrying the virus, to a human. The term also applies to a human infecting an animal. However it can be transmitted from person to person through close contact or from respiratory droplets. It can also spread by touching infected body fluids and monkeypox sores, as well as contaminated clothes or other fabrics.
Transmission can occur through the respiratory tract, contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, and items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores.
Symptoms typically last between two and four weeks. In Africa, the mortality rate of people infected with monkeypox can be as high as 10%, according to the WHO.
The virus has two clinical phases. Infected people will first experience fever, head and muscle aches, and other symptoms similar to influenza. However, within one to three days after the end of the fever, patients will begin developing a rash on the face that will quickly spread, transforming to lesions across the body.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a live virus vaccine to guard against contracting monkeypox. An advisory committee is currently evaluating its use as a preventative measure.