Monkeypox – Is the world at risk of another pandemic?

Monkeypox is a Zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Although the virus was first identified in 1958 when a pox-like infection occurred among laboratory monkeys in Denmark, Scientists believe that the actual source of this virus are rodents.

Monkeypox has been present for the last half-century in central and west Africa. But the disease raised terror when it started spreading in other locations of the world where it has not been seen before. According to the Centers for disease control (CDC), 23,620 cases have been reported till 1 Aug 2022, among them 23,276 cases have been reported from 73 countries that have not historically reported Monkeypox before.


The virus is transmitted by close skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets and body fluids. It may also transmit by touching the fabrics and objects that were used by the infected person that have not been disinfected. The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose and mouth. It can also transmit directly from animal to human through scratch, bites and direct and indirect contact with lesions materials or body fluids.

Monkeypox Virus (Image: WHO)

Monkeypox has an incubation period of 7-12 days but may take up to 21 days. The onset of monkeypox is fever, headache, chills and fatigue. After fever, the infected person develops a rash starting from the face and spreading throughout the body. The rash is painful, itchy and results in lesions.

Is monkeypox fatal?

The disease resembles chicken pox. Most cases are mild and clear out on their own within 14-21 days. However, some severe cases have been reported to cause death in west Africa.

Is there a threat of a pandemic like COVID?

Monkeypox is not as dreadful as COVID-19. The following aspects make it controllable.

  1. Monkeypox is a DNA virus, that mutates less due to DNA proofreading when replication. On the contrary, COVID is an RNA virus that mutates more often resulting in more powerful variants.
  2. Monkeypox does not spread as easily as COVID, Also identification and isolation of infected people are much easier.
  3. There are two vaccines available for Monkeypox, ACAM2000 (the smallpox vaccine) and JYNNEOS (also called imvamune or imvanex).
Should the world be alarmed?

There is a serious need to take measures to improve the public health infrastructure. The outbreak of Monkeypox shows how mediocre the global health measures are.

Monkeypox should not have spread to this extent. The outbreak has currently affected adults mostly. If the pandemic moved to children and oldster the circumstances may worsen. If the virus spread to rodents, the infection would become endemic.

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