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Member's blog - Other

Monkeypox: A current emergency global health threat

Publication date: 06.02.2023
Author: Mohamud Sheek-Hussein

Monkeypox (MPXV) is a zoonotic disease similar to smallpox but generally less severe. It is caused by a double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid virus and primarily affects humans and other primates. The disease is endemic in Central and West Africa, where it is transmitted to humans via contact with infected animals like squirrels and rodents; however, the natural reservoir has yet to be identified. In 2022, MPXV appeared suddenly outside its endemic areas, posing a global health threat. MPVX is clinically similar to smallpox, but less severe with low mortality, with lesions on the face, trunk, and distal extremities having a centrifugal distribution. Human-to-human transmission occurs directly or in close contact. Risk groups include frontline health workers, household members, and men who have sex with men. There is no effective treatment; only supportive care such as rehydration and pain management. Vaccination against MPXV is available, but in the meantime should be limited to those who are at high risk.

Our world has a delicate balance between animals, the environment, and humans. We need a new path for global public health policy and action on social and ecological factors reflecting the need for a "one globe, one health approach" to address those risks and reduce the impact of the MPXV or a future pandemic. Our recently published review article on this important topic highlights and details the above-mentioned points.

Mohamud Sheek-Hussein is an active member of the ASPHER COVID-19 Task Force. On 26 January 2023, he presented to the TF on MPXV. Slides from his presentation are available here.

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