While you are now leaving Covid behind, you may not be ready to hear the word virus again, but unfortunately that is the case.
This time, the name of the virus is monkeypox and 80 cases have been detected in 11 countries, including England, so far.
So what’s really going on? Is there something we need to worry about or are we worried too much now that Covid is behind us?
Let’s be clear, this is not a new Covid and quarantine measures are not on the horizon.
But this is an unusual and unprecedented epidemic of monkeypox. What happened to people who specialize in this disease was also a surprise. There is always anxiety when a virus changes its behavior.
Until recently, monkeypox was a predictable virus.
The virus is found in the bodies of wild animals. Although it is called monkeypox, it is actually seen in rodents.
Someone wandering through the rainforests of West or Central Africa came into contact with an infected animal and contracted the virus. Fluid-filled blisters form on the infected person’s skin, which then crust over.
The virus, which goes out of the natural habitat by infecting humans, has difficulty in spreading. Long and close contact is required for this to happen. For this reason, epidemics are narrow-framed and disappear on their own.
But this is no longer the case.
For the first time, the virus was detected in individuals not in contact with West or Central Africa.
It is not clear from whom the virus spread.
Monkey pox is transmitted during sexual intercourse and mostly in cases, lesions are seen in the genital area.
Detected incidents involving more than one bisexual or gay men.
Professor Peter Horby of the University of Oxford said: “This is a new situation, which has created both surprise and concern.”
Professor Horby, an expert on epidemics, says that this is not a “second Covid”, but that “action is needed” to prevent the virus from gaining momentum.
Physician Hugh Adler, a person who has treated cases of monkeypox, also agrees with Professor Horby, saying, “This is not a process we’ve seen before, it’s a surprise.”
So what exactly is going on?
We know it’s a different epidemic, but we don’t know why.
Two options stand out here; The virus has changed or the truth has found a medium on the ground to spread to it in real time.
Monkeypox is a DNA virus. That’s why it doesn’t mutate as fast as the Covid or flu virus. Early research suggests that the monkeypox virus seen in recent events is similar to events detected in 2018 and 2019.
It is still too early to be sure, but for now there is no evidence that we are dealing with a new variant.
However, as in the examples of Ebola and Zika viruses, a virus does not have to mutate in order to have an opportunity to spread.
“We always thought Ebola was an easily controlled virus, but we realized it wasn’t that bad,” says Professor Adam Kucharski, a tropical diseases expert.
It is not entirely clear why the virus is more common in gay and bisexual men. Do sexual orientations facilitate diffusion? Is this just a coincidence? Or is it because they are a community that is more aware of sexual health and has frequent inspections?
Individuals who have been vaccinated in the past may be getting some level of defense against the precedent of monkeypox.
Physician Adler, who believes that this epidemic will disappear on its own, says, “It can be said that it spreads faster than smallpox, but we have no indication that it can get out of control.”
Understanding how this epidemic started will also guide us in claiming the next ones.
We are still looking at the tip of the iceberg. It is not a matter of words that we can say that this person is infected with this person. On the contrary, the relevance of many events could not be determined. In other words, some links of the chain are missing in this epidemic that has spread to Europe and beyond.
The possibility that it started at a marvelous infectious event such as a festival and spread to countries from there may explain what happened.
The fact that the virus is seen in so many people who are not related to each other brings to mind the possibility that too many people have been carrying the virus for a while without realizing it.
Whatever the explanation, we can expect to see more events in the coming era.
Tropical diseases expert Professor Jimmy Whitworth said, “I don’t think the general public has anything to worry about at this level. But we can’t say that we know everything about the latest situation and that we have it under control.” he says.
We are not in the situation we are in Covid.
Monkeypox is a known virus and we have a vaccine and treatment for it.
Usually the symptoms are mild, but it can be dangerous in young children, pregnant women and individuals with weak immunity.
It also spreads more slowly than Covid, and lesions on the skin make it easier to spot and detect incidents.
Despite these, the World Health Organization warns that festivities and collective gatherings in the summer months can accelerate the spread.