While we are coming to the realization that COVID is going to continue to be with us, we are now experiencing a new outbreak of monkeypox!
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral-based infectious disease (family: Poxviridae, genus: Orthopoxvirus) that infects several species of mammals. Natural hosts include dormice, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats and non-human primates with rodents suspected as the natural reservoir. And, as we know, humans can be infected as well with transmission occurring from contact with bodily fluids, blood and lesions of infected animals and bushmeat.
According to the World Health Organization, the first human case was detected in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the initial phase of monkeypox infection, humans experience swollen lymph nodes, back and muscle aches, extreme lethargy, fever and headache. These symptoms are followed by a skin rash, generally concentrated on the face, arms and legs. The fluid-filled blisters eventually dry up and fall off, similar to chickenpox.
Treatment and prevention
The antiviral medication tecovirimat has shown to be effective in treating monkeypox and there is evidence that the smallpox vaccine can prevent infection. Since smallpox has been irradicated, individuals under the age of 50-60 have not been vaccinated and thus are more susceptible to serious illness. A monkeypox vaccine, Jynneos, was approved in the United States for adults in 2019 but is rarely available except to researchers working with the virus.
Monkeypox is generally found in Western and Central parts of Africa. Normally there are only a few thousand human cases per year and individuals who contract the virus outside of these regions had recently traveled to Africa. In the recent 2022 outbreak, however, monkeypox cases have occurred in individuals in separate populations and regions where infections are not normally found. A recent article in the journal Nature provides an excellent overview of the unique characteristics of this current outbreak.
The last few years have highlighted how much a rare disease outbreak or a new disease is a critical concern. However, the fact that treatments and vaccines are available (although not readily or widely as of yet) should prevent monkeypox from affecting the global population in the same manner as COVID-19.
Do you conduct monkeypox research in your laboratory? Our catalog contains antibodies to both monkeypox and Orthopox. Additionally, our sister company Absolute Antibody offers recombinant versions of antibodies to monkeypox, Orthopox and the p53 protein of Orthopox virus. Contact us if you have any questions or to learn more.