The report of the outbreak of Monkeypox virus in the Central African Republic on October 13th got me thinking about this scary virus with a fun name. The monkeypkx virus that causes monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox, and clinically looks very similar to this eradicated disease. Googling pictures of these ailments is not recommended for the faint of heart.
Fortunately this virus is very rare, and a U.S. outbreak in 2003 was the only time that this virus was documented outside of Africa.
Transmission of this virus occurs via human to infected person/animal/material, which means that eradication efforts have to be wary of three modes of transmission. First, the virus can be transmitted via broken skin, large respiratory droplets, other bodily fluids, and infected linens or clothes. The main reservoir for this disease is still largely unknown.
As of now there is currently no know effective treatment for this disease, which is scary considering that it was first documented in the 1970’s, however, it is not nearly as lethal as its sister disease smallpox, so there is no need to worry. Smallpox had a fatality rate of about 30%, while monkeypox is only about 1-10%.
There is promising research in using smallpox to create a vaccine for monkeypox, but nothing has been approved for human use yet.