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?
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.