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    'UK And the Public Should Not be Сoncerned' - Prof. on Monkeypox

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    A health worker in northern England has become the third person in Britain to contract a rare illness caused by a monkeypox virus after caring for a patient that traveled to Nigeria. Sputnik spoke to Professor Geoffrey L. Smith, head of department at Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, to discuss the issue.

    Sputnik: Firstly, could you briefly describe to our listeners, what monkey pox is?

    Geoffrey L. Smith: It's a disease which is caused by the monkeypox virus and is part of the orthopoxvirus genus and other members in that genus are variola virus, the cause of smallpox vaccinea — the vaccine used to eradicate smallpox, and other viruses like cowpox and camelpox for example.

    Sputnik: As it stands, three people are currently being treated for monkeypox, could we expect this number to rise?

    Geoffrey L. Smith: I think that is unlikely. It is a virus that does not easily spread from human to human. It can happen but usually it's when they are close contacts. It's not like influenza or measles where one person via releasing the virus into an aerosol is likely to infect many other people. I think that it's not expected there will be many cases in the UK and the public should not be concerned. It is also a disease that is very easy to spot because someone who has monkeypox has many legions which are easily visible and when such cases are identified the patients would be quarantined and contacts of the patient traced and offered vaccination.

    Sputnik: Is Britain and moreover the west prepared for more 'lesser known' diseases and viruses that exist across the world?

    Geoffrey L. Smith: Well viruses will transmit and I guess with the increased international travel, the chance of a virus moving from one place where it is endemic to another place where it is not usually found is increased, but it wouldn't be fair to say that monkeypox is unheard of outside its national reservoirs in Africa. There was quite a large outbreak of monkeypox in the US that was caused via the importation of rodents from Gambia and so this is not the first case. We have of course have means to prevent it spreading and to treat it, so there is a drug which is licensed this year to treat smallpox and that drug is also effective in treating all orthopoxviruses including monkeypox. There is also a vaccine that would be used to prevent smallpox and monkeypox, and the spread of the virus can be prevented quite easily by quarantining the patient so overall we have the means to contain this and the public should be unduly concerned.


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    Monkeypox, virus, disease, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
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