2 monkeypox strains in US suggest possible undetected spread

Health officials announced Friday that genetic analysis of monkeypox cases in the United States has revealed two distinct strains.

2 monkeypox strains in US suggest possible undetected spread

Health officials announced Friday that genetic analysis of monkeypox cases in the United States has revealed two distinct strains. This raises the possibility that the virus may have been undiscovered for some time.

Federal health officials stated that while many of the U.S. cases were due to the same strain as European cases, a few samples showed a different strain. The strains were all present in U.S. cases before the international outbreak.

Jennifer McQuiston, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that monkeypox is still circulating in the United States and other countries. She said that it will take analysis from many more people to find out how long.

She said Friday that she believed it was possible for monkeypox cases to have occurred in the United States. However, not to a large extent. She said that there could be "community level transmission" in areas of the U.S. that have not yet been confirmed.

2 monkeypox strains in US suggest possible undetected spread

By MIKE STOBBE

Today

FILE - The 2003 electron microscope image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts mature, oval-shaped monkeypox viruses, left, and immature, spherical virions. It was taken from human skin that was exposed to the 2003 prairie dog epidemic. Rosamund Lewis, WHO's monkeypox expert, said that she does not expect the hundreds of cases to become another pandemic. However, she acknowledged that there are many unknowns, such as how the disease is spreading and whether the decades-old suspension of mass immunization may have contributed to its spread. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith/CDC via AP. File

FILE - The 2003 electron microscope image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts mature, oval-shaped monkeypox viruses, left, and immature, spherical virions. It was taken from human skin that was exposed to the 2003 prairie dog epidemic. Rosamund Lewis, WHO's monkeypox expert, said that she does not expect the hundreds of cases to become another pandemic. However, she acknowledged that there are many unknowns, such as how the disease is spreading and whether the decades-old suspension of mass immunization may have contributed to its spread. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith/CDC via AP. File

NEW YORK (AP), -- A genetic analysis of monkeypox cases in the United States has revealed two distinct strains, U.S. health officials announced Friday. This raises the possibility that the virus may have been circulating undiscovered for some time.

Federal health officials stated that while many of the U.S. cases were due to the same strain as European cases, a few samples showed a different strain. The strains were all present in U.S. cases before the international outbreak.

Jennifer McQuiston, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that monkeypox is still circulating in the United States and other countries. She said that it will take analysis from many more people to find out how long.

She said Friday that she believed it was possible for monkeypox cases to have occurred in the United States. However, not to a large extent. She said that there could be "community level transmission" in areas of the U.S. where it has not been identified yet.

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According to the CDC, it is working harder to find infections and more cases will likely be reported.

According to Dr. Angela Rasmussen (virologist at University of Saskatchewan), the findings indicate that the outbreak will likely be difficult to contain.

It is not known how long the infections have been going on and where they are occurring. It is possible that some infections were misdiagnosed as another infection.

Rasmussen stated, "We don’t really have an idea of how many cases are out there."

Monkeypox can be found in many parts of Africa. It is an endemic disease where small rodents and small animals have infected people. It is not easily spread among people.

However, the virus was discovered in America and Europe last month. Many, but not all, of the people who were infected had traveled internationally. Health officials in increasing numbers of countries are now investigating.

On Friday, at least 20 cases had been identified in 11 U.S. states. Many other cases were also found in countries around the world, most likely related to recent European raves.

Although most of the cases reported from Africa are in men who sex with women, health officials stress that anyone can contract monkeypox. Officials in the United States are currently investigating one case involving a heterosexual woman.

Flu-like symptoms, swelling of lymph nodes and rash often accompany the illness.

So far, there have not been any monkeypox-related deaths in Europe or the U.S. Rasmussen stated that this could change if the infection starts to occur in people who are more vulnerable, such as children and people with weak immune systems.

Another concern was raised by her: It's possible that the virus could spread to rodents in the United States, even if the outbreaks are contained among humans.

Rasmussen stated, "It's not impossible."

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