WHO investigates whether rapid spread of monkeypox is due to mutations

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monkeypox mutations
The WHO seeks to investigate whether mutations in the monkeypox virus are linked to its rapid spread. | Photo: Getty Images.

Several ongoing studies are trying to determine whether genetic changes in the virus monkey pox are driving the rapid spread of the diseaseThe World Health Organization (WHO) told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

“It is still early, both in the outbreak and in laboratory studies, to know if the increase in infections is due to the observed changes in the virus genotype or to host (human) factors.”

“Looking at the genome, you see some genetic differences between viruses in the current outbreak and old viruses. However, nothing is known about the relevance of these genetic changes, and research is ongoing to determine the effects (if any) of these mutations on disease transmission and severity.” the WHO told AFP.

“However, nothing is known about the relevance of these genetic changes, and research is ongoing to determine the effects (if any) of these mutations on disease transmission and severity.” he added.

Although the outbreak of monkeypox infections began to be reported in May outside the endemic countries of Africa and almost all new cases are reported in Europe and the Americasthe Organization indicated that “the diversity among the viruses responsible for the current outbreak is minimal, and there are no obvious genotypic differences among viruses from non-endemic countries.”

  • The WHO declared it an international public health emergency on July 23 and more than 35,000 cases have been reported to the WHO in 92 countries with 12 deaths.

Variations in the monkeypox virus

Until now, the two distinct clades or variants of monkeypox virus were baptized as Congo Basin clade (Central Africa) and West African cladefor the two regions to which they are endemic.

However, last Friday the WHO changed the name of the groups to clade I and clade II respectively, to avoid the risk of geographic stigmatization.

The Organization also announced that clade II had two subclades, IIa and IIbwith viruses within the latter identified as being responsible for the current global outbreak.

This Wednesday, the health agency of the UN specified that clades IIa and IIb are related and they share a recent common ancestor, and therefore IIb is not a branch of IIa.

And, as reportedclade IIb contains viruses collected in the 1970s and as of 2017.

New name for monkeypox

About him name change to monkeypox, the WHO said that “it would take “months”. And it is that, the entity has expressed concern about the name, which experts consider misleading.

The monkeypox name comes from the virus it was originally identified in monkeys used for research in Denmark in 1958. However, the disease is more often found in rodents, and the current outbreak is human-to-human transmission.

The WHO has asked for help from the public to define a new name, with a web page where anyone can make suggestions.