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Studies to see if mutations spread behind monkeypox: WHO

#Studies #mutations #spread #monkeypox

Studies are underway to see if genetic changes in the monkeypox virus are driving the rapid spread of the disease, the World Health Organization told AFP on Wednesday.

The two distinct clades, or variants, of the virus have been named Congo Basin (Central Africa) and West Africa, after the two regions to which they are each endemic.

On Friday, the WHO renamed the groups Clade I and Clade II, respectively, to avert the risk of geographical stigma.

It also announced that Clade II had two subclades, IIa and IIb, with viruses within the latter identified as behind the current global outbreak.

On Wednesday, the UN health agency said that clades IIa and IIb are related and share a common ancestor – hence IIb is not an offshoot of IIa.

– mutation research –

Clade IIb contains viruses collected in the 1970s and as of 2017.

“Indeed, if you look at the genome, there are some genetic differences between the viruses of the current outbreak and the older clade IIb viruses,” the WHO told AFP.

“However, nothing is known about the significance of these genetic changes, and research is ongoing to determine the impact (if any) of these mutations on transmission and disease severity.

“In both the outbreak and laboratory studies, it is early to say whether the increase in infections could be caused by the observed genotypic changes in the virus or is due to host (human) factors.”

There is also no information yet on what the mutations mean in terms of how the virus interacts with the human immune response.

An increase in monkeypox infections outside endemic African countries has been reported since early May.

The WHO declared the situation an international health emergency on July 23.

More than 35,000 cases in 92 countries and 12 deaths have now been reported to the WHO.

Almost all new cases are reported from Europe and America.

Experts examined samples of cases.

“The diversity between the viruses responsible for the current outbreak is minimal and there are no apparent genotypic differences between the viruses from the non-endemic countries,” WHO said.

– Renaming monkeypox could take months –

Meanwhile, the WHO said its effort to rename monkeypox could take “several months”.

The organization has raised concerns about the name for weeks, with experts concerned it is misleading.

Monkeypox got its name because the virus was originally identified in 1958 in monkeys kept in Denmark for research purposes.

However, the disease is most common in rodents, and the current outbreak is spread through close human-to-human contact.

The WHO has asked the public for help to come up with a new name, with a dedicated website for anyone to submit suggestions.

“We will update the public by the end of the year,” WHO said.

Social Tags:
#Studies #mutations #spread #monkeypox

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