EXPLAINED: What is monkeypox and where is it spreading?


EXPLAINED: What is monkeypox and where is it spreading?


The U.S. has 1,000 doses of a vaccine approved for the prevention of monkeypox and smallpox, plus more than 100 million doses of an older-generation smallpox vaccine in a government stockpile, officials said.


Any outbreak of an emerging virus is concerning, but most of the cases have been mild and there have been no deaths so far.

Monkeypox also requires very close contact to spread, so it is not likely to prompt big waves of disease like COVID-19, which can be transmitted in the air by people with no symptoms.

Still, Britain’s Health Security Agency has said it expects to see new infections on a daily basis and WHO’s Europe director warned that the summer season of festivals and parties could spread the disease. Many of the cases being identified have no links to previous infections, suggesting the virus is already spreading widely.

On Tuesday, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the outbreak is not the beginning of a new pandemic but needed to be contained quickly.


The World Health Organization estimates there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about a dozen African countries every year. Most are in Congo, which reports about 6,000 cases annually, and Nigeria, with about 3,000 cases a year.

In the past, isolated cases of monkeypox have been spotted outside Africa, including in the U.S. and Britain. The cases were mostly linked to travel in Africa or contact with animals from areas where the disease is more common.

In 2003, 47 people in six U.S. states had confirmed or probable cases. They caught the virus from pet prairie dogs that been housed near imported small mammals from Ghana.

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