The current outbreak of monkeypox isn’t a cause for panic for the general public, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are overly aware of the potential for a virus to take hold and spread across the globe. Anna Bershteyn, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, has written an article for the New York Daily News, dissecting what we know about monkeypox, what it could become, and what we can do about it now.
Monkeypox is in the family of viruses that includes cowpox and smallpox; these viruses jump species easily. The current outbreak is thought to come from rodents. Thankfully, these viruses grant broad immunity to their cousins. Someone who contracts one of these diseases usually has immunity to all of them.
“Monkeypox has jumped into humans several times, but it has never been contagious enough to spread widely,” says Dr. Bershteyn. “The current outbreak is the biggest yet, but still not a cause for concern. Unfortunately, viruses learn new tricks through evolution’s trial-and-error. The bigger outbreaks get, the more shots-on-goal a virus has to become highly contagious and evade detection—the ingredients for a pandemic.”
One way forward could be to invest some pandemic prevention funds into speeding up development of an MVA-based vaccine, one that most of the public could benefit from. Harnessing public awareness and the current desire to avoid another global pandemic is important to push for programs and initiatives to help cut down transmission.
With all these factors in mind, it is crucial for health agencies to stamp down on outbreaks like monkeypox quickly. If these efforts succeed, viruses like this will be unable to gain a foothold. Opportunities like that are important to capitalize on while we have them.
Read more from the New York Daily News.