According to a recent study, the monkeypox virus appears to be mutating rapidly. The news comes in the context in which the World Health Organization is trying to expand the eligibility for the vaccines to more categories of people who are considered to be at risk.
The new study was authored by a group of researchers from the National Institute of Health in Lisbon, Portugal, and it was published in Nature Medicine. According to the Financial Times, one of the researchers involved in the study, João Paulo Gomes, declared that the number of mutations they have identified exceeded their expectations for this kind of virus. Gomes stated that “it was quite unexpected to find so many mutations in the 2022 monkeypox virus. In fact, considering the genome characteristics of this type of virus, no more than one or two mutations are likely to emerge each year.”
While monkeypox was considered to be a somewhat stable type of virus, researchers found around fifty mutations. This could be one of the reasons why the virus is spreading faster and is more easily transmitted from one person to the other. According to The New York Post, “there are currently more than 3,500 cases of the virus in 44 countries globally,” and the number is constantly increasing.
How contagious is monkeypox?
The monkeypox virus can be transmitted between two people by exchange of bodily fluids or sharing clothes. It can also be transmitted by inhaling droplets when speaking with someone. However, the latter way of transmission requires prolonged and relatively close contact with the speaker.
In the US, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the existence of 173 cases of monkeypox, as of June 24th. At the same time, the authorities are looking for ways to speed up the detection rate of monkeypox cases, by expanding testing across the country.