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Could monkeypox be the next West Nile Virus?

Monkeypox could become endemic in the US, just as the West Nile virus did after it passed into the wild mosquito population two decades ago, an expert warns.

dr. Bobbi Pritt, a pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, told the DailyMail.com that a key similarity between the diseases was that both had spread under the radar before they were discovered.

But she said monkeypox is probably much easier to fight, because it’s mostly spread through sexual contact with infectious skin lesions, while the other is transmitted “randomly” by mosquitoes.

West Nile Virus (WNV) became endemic in the US just a year after its arrival and is now the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the country – with tens of thousands of cases per year.

About eight in 10 people infected with the virus have no symptoms, but of those who do, one in five will develop a fever, headache and vomiting, while one in 150 may develop encephalitis – an inflammation of the brain. About 70 deaths related to the disease are recorded every 12 months.

European health chiefs have warned that monkeypox could also be plunging into the animal population, although the risk remains ‘very low’. There was a risk of the tropical disease contracting in 2003 when it infected more than 40 prairie dogs, but the outbreak was eventually eradicated.

The warning comes after America registered another 28 cases of monkey pox this weekend and Juneteenth in 23 states and Washington DC New Jersey, Indiana and Missouri were the last states to detect the disease this weekend. The number has now reached 142, but no deaths have been recorded in the US or other countries currently facing an outbreak.

The above map shows states that have detected monkeypox (red) in the current outbreak and those that still are, the cumulative number of monkeypox cases each weekday (left) and cases by state (right)

The above map shows states that have detected monkeypox (red) in the current outbreak and those that still are, the cumulative number of monkeypox cases each weekday (left) and cases by state (right)

The above map shows states that have detected West Nile virus this year.  The incidence is per 100,000 people.  Hawaii has yet to report disease incidence

The above map shows states that have detected West Nile virus this year. The incidence is per 100,000 people. Hawaii has yet to report disease incidence

The map above shows the states that have reported West Nile virus in humans (dark green) and other animals (light green) since 2021.  It shows that the virus is now in every state of the country.  Hawaii has yet to report the number of cases

The map above shows the states that have reported West Nile virus in humans (dark green) and other animals (light green) since 2021. It shows that the virus is now in every state of the country. Hawaii has yet to report the number of cases

Pritt, warning that monkeypox could establish itself in the US, as did WNV, said: “I would hesitate to say that monkeypox is still endemic, although it certainly has this potential.”

‘However, it will be easier to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

“They have very different modes of transmission. WNV is spread through mosquito bites and is actually quite random. But monkeypox is most commonly spread through sexual contact, currently mainly among men who have sex with men – although it can reach other populations.

What is West Nile Virus? What are the warning signs? Is there treatment?

West Nile virus is a disease spread by mosquitoes, which can pick it up from birds.

It was discovered in Uganda in the 1930s and can now be found on almost every continent in the world. It reached the US in 1999, probably on a mission from the Middle East.

The disease now causes tens of thousands of cases each year, although most go unreported because eight in ten do not develop any symptoms.

People who get the disease generally don’t show symptoms until three to 14 days later.

Those who do get warning signs often experience flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, and headaches.

However, about one in 50 cases develop a serious illness, in which they can face coma, tremors and paralysis.

About one in 150 patients could also develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that is life-threatening.

There is no specific treatment for patients with West Nile virus, but critically ill patients will be hospitalized for close monitoring.

People with mild illness are advised to be given over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce their fever and other symptoms.

About 70 people die from the disease in the US every year.

sources: CDC

‘This could be stopped by safe sex.

“There’s a better chance of stopping it than WNV. At WNV it can only really be stopped by wearing insect repellent.’

US health chiefs took nearly two weeks to diagnose their first case of monkeypox in Massachusetts after standard Pap smears failed to detect other infections. They decided to test the patient for the tropical virus only after they noticed warnings from Europe – led by the UK – about the outbreak there.

In comparison, a WNV outbreak was noted in New York City in late August after eight previously healthy people living within 15 miles of each other were struck with encephalitis.

The tropical disease has been known for decades after it was first spotted in the West Nile district of northern Uganda in 1937.

Since then, it started popping up in several other countries on the continent, parts of Asia and even Romania, Europe.

The disease arrived in the US in 1999, probably on a shipment that had come from the Middle East – where Israel was also experiencing an outbreak at the time. It’s not clear if it’s geese or another bird that was imported or arrived via mosquitoes piggybacking on a ship.

Health officials became suspicious of his presence in late August when they saw suggestive cases in Queens. Many birds were also spotted that became ill from a virus with a high death rate.

WNV is spread by mosquitoes to humans and birds after the insect picks up the disease from another infected animal – which could very well be a sick bird.

The following year, they discovered another outbreak of the disease, and within three years, it had been registered in as many as 44 states.

It also caused a major outbreak in 2002 when a total of 4,100 cases were discovered, including more than 2,000 people suffering from encephalitis. There were also 284 deaths.

But Pritt said because so many people who contract the virus have no symptoms, the actual number of cases was in the tens of thousands.

Other experts have also warned that Monkeypox could mimic WNV to settle in the country.

dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins in Maryland, previously shared: CNN“It was seeded into the mosquito populations and… bird populations and was able to establish itself,” he said.

But he also warned that this was a far from inevitable outcome for Monkeypox, pointing out that “2003 was a good chance to make it happen,” but it didn’t.

Monkeypox, hailing from West Africa, was first spotted in Europe in May, with cases traced to unprotected sex at mass rallies taking place in Spain and Belgium.

It was first discovered in the US a few weeks later in a person who had recently returned from Canada, but the World Health Organization says it could have spread years in advance.

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Officials urge gay and bisexual men to be aware of any new lesions, rashes or scabs and contact a sexual health clinic

Officials urge gay and bisexual men to be aware of any new lesions, rashes or scabs and contact a sexual health clinic

Timeline of monkey pox cases in the US

Apr 2003: A total of 47 people appear to be infected with the virus after contact with animals.

This was linked to a shipment of 800 rodents — including squirrels — from Ghana to Texas. Some of the infected animals were then moved to Illinois and housed near prairie dogs. They passed the virus on to these animals, who then passed it on to humans when they were rehomed.

July 2021: A person in Texas found to be infected with monkey pox after returning to the US from Nigeria.

A total of 200 people were checked for infection, but after 21 days no one had developed any symptoms.

Nov 2021: One person tested positive for the virus after returning to Maryland from Nigeria. They did not pass the virus on to others.

May 2022: A man is found to be infected with the virus after returning to Massachusetts from Canada.

Another case is currently under investigation in New York City.

Most infections are seen among gay and bisexual men and are linked to international travel – including to Europe.

But a growing number of cases are now being noted unrelated to other infections or international travel, suggesting the virus is already spreading under the radar in the country.

It comes after New Jersey registered its first suspected case of monkeypox in Jersey City yesterday, with a sample now being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

The patient was told to isolate at home and contact is now being made.

They said on Instagram: “The NJ Department of Health has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in Jersey City. Our health officials work closely with the CDC.

“The local health department is conducting contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the individual.

“Most New Jersey residents are not at risk of monkeypox infection.”

Globally, the CDC has a total of 2,525 cases in 37 different countries, with the United Kingdom leading the way with 574 and Spain second with 497 confirmed cases of the virus.

Medical literature says that people infected with monkeypox experience flu-like symptoms within the first 21 days of contracting the virus, followed by a rash that appears on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.

But this is rarely seen in the current outbreak, with patients instead seeing rashes appear on the genital areas before developing flu-like symptoms.

dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “The disease is not spread through casual conversations, passing others in a grocery store, or touching things like doorknobs,” she said.

“All the cases we’ve seen in this outbreak so far have involved direct contact.”

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