The outbreak of monkeypox highlights the need for a preventive approach to prevent zoonoses in the future

Color electron micrograph of transmission of monkeypox particles (teal) found inside an infected (brown) cell, cultured in the laboratory. The image was captured and enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD).

The current global outbreak of monkeypox is another warning for adopting a preventive approach to reduce the risk of known and unknown zoonotic pathogens emerging in the future, say Professors Diana Bell and Andrew Cunningham.

Scientists wrote a comment published in Cappy One Health magazine, says the scientist “could not ignore yet another warning” like the one he gave monkeypoxwhich has so far seen 62,406 cases in 104 countries and 19 deaths.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a zoonotic viral disease (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in patients with smallpox, although clinically less serious.

With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and the subsequent discontinuation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health, according to the World Health Organization. Monkeypox occurs primarily in central and western Africa, often near tropical rainforests, and has increasingly appeared in urban areas. A group of African rodents appears to be the natural animal host for monkeypox virus.

Professor Bell, Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Professor Cunningham, Deputy Director of Science at the ZSL Zoological Institute, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), say the unintended consequence of smallpox eradication – and ending the smallpox vaccination campaign – was aimed at ” The world’s population has made humans immunologically naïve to infection with orthopoxvirus for the first time in history.”

Professors Bell and Cunningham, in their commentary, argue, “This has occurred at a time when the majority of people worldwide live in densely populated cities and when worldwide connectivity has never been higher, both of which facilitate the emergence and spread of infectious diseases” .

“It is not surprising, then, that new infections with zoonotic orthopoxvirus have increased in recent years, or that a worldwide outbreak of human monkeypox has occurred.”

“One Health’s approach, including consideration of land use change and the trade in bushmeat and exotic pets, is required to prevent the chances of monkeypox, or diseases caused by orthopoxviruses, and to respond quickly and effectively to any outbreak in order to limit its spread.”

The researchers highlighted three examples where monkeypox has pathways to spread and where a One Health approach to prevention is particularly needed – land-use change, bushmeat trade and pet trade.

Regarding the bushmeat trade, for example, Professors Cunningham and Bell suggest that the Gambian giant rat, a potential carrier of monkeypox virus, is “usually eaten because of its relatively large size, and is therefore of particular interest as a potential source of zoonotic infection”.

They add that despite extensive legislation banning the importation of endangered species, or indeed any wild meat from Africa, large quantities of bushmeat are smuggled via personal baggage to major European and American cities on passenger flights from West and Central African countries where monkeypox is endemic. In which. wild animals.

Regarding the pet trade, scientists say the 2003 outbreak of monkeypox in six US states was due to a shipment of 800 live small mammals imported from Ghana to Texas. Viral tests of some of these animals revealed MPV infection in three cells, two corded squirrels, and at least one giant gambian mouse.

Professors Bill Cunningham said, “Demand is global with transcontinental smuggling encompassing South America and Asia as well as Africa and Europe, fueling crises of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services and escalating the risk of human exposure to known and unknown pathogens harbored by wildlife along trade routes and within destination countries. “.

They conclude by suggesting that a preventive approach to prevent further outbreaks of zoonoses could include promoting alternatives bushmeatRoutinely vaccinate people at risk of exposure and educate people about hygiene procedures such as wearing gloves when handling live and dead wild animals.


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more information:
Monkeypox: We Can’t Ignore Another Warning, Cappy One Health (2022). DOI: 10.1079/cabionehealth20220005

Introduction by CABI

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