Monkeypox: Here’s How Colleges Are Preparing For Possible Outbreaks As Students Return

Universities and colleges across the U.S. are preparing for potential outbreaks of monkeypox this fall as students begin returning to campus amid an upswing in cases nationally, marking another public health challenge for schools to manage after years of grappling with Covid-19.

Dr. Ina Park, a professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, told Forbes that while monkeypox “does pose a risk to students,” the risk is different from that posed by Covid-19 and there is not a concern about catching the virus through everyday activity or passing someone in a corridor.

The main issue is that students live together in close quarters and gather to socialize, including hookups where close contact like kissing, skin-to-skin contact and sex might happen, Park explained, adding that the virus could also potentially be transmitted through sharing clothing or sleeping in someone else’s bed.

Numerous universities told Forbes they are in contact with local and federal health authorities to plan their responses and some schools, such as Texas A&M University, said clinicians at student health services have taken part in CDC training related to the disease.

Other universities, including Georgetown University and NYU, said student health services are able to carry out the specific testing needed to diagnose monkeypox.

Disinfecting desks or public toilets—surfaces the monkeypox virus can live on—could be one way of minimizing the risk to students, Park said, as would vaccinating students who are men or transgender people who have sex with men and expanding access to all college students when supplies permit.

Evidence-based education—especially alerting people to “the fact that monkeypox is transmitted through intimate contact”—will be crucial, Dr. Marina Klein, a professor of medicine at McGill University, told Forbes, as well as training campus health services to be on the lookout for potential monkeypox cases.

Monkeypox primarily spreads through close physical contact, as well as contact with contaminated objects and surfaces like bedding or clothing. While infections are clustered among men who have sex with men—data suggests the outbreak is largely driven by sexual activity—there have also been cases in women and children and experts told Forbes there is a risk the disease could spill over into other groups and obviously these communities are not self contained and members also attend university.

Experts stress the importance of balancing the provision of accurate information about the risks of monkeypox and how it is spreading and avoiding stigmatizing the groups most affected. Campuses also face a number of unique challenges when managing disease outbreaks, the American College Health Association (ACHA), told Forbes, such as how to isolate people with limited housing available and managing the disruption a two-to-four week isolation period can cause to students. The organization said it is working to develop tailored guidance for campus settings.

What To Watch For

How universities communicate about monkeypox. Several universities told Forbes they are following guidance from local health departments and the CDC, though this advice does not specifically address university settings. Many universities have set up informational websites providing resources and guidance on the virus, while some like NYU, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and the University of Michigan told Forbes they have also emailed staff and students about the outbreak and will provide updates as the situation evolves.

Other universities have gone, or plan to go, further in communication efforts: the University of Florida told Forbes it is increasingly promoting safe sex messaging and Texas A&M University said the school is pushing out information on the disease via social media and flyers in residence halls and high-traffic areas. Guidance and protocols are sure to evolve as the outbreak does; NYU spokesperson John Beckman told Forbes the university is “closely following developments” and staff at the student health center are on “heightened alert” to respond.

There are also broader impacts of monkeypox to be considered, Cornell’s director of media relations Rebecca Valli told Forbes, adding that the school is considering “the potential academic impacts and accommodations which may arise” should a student come down with monkeypox.

There have been 10,768 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The overwhelming majority of cases have been among men who identify as gay, bisexual or who have sex with men and transmission is suspected to have occurred through sexual activity in most of those infected.

The World Health Organization , the White House and a number of local jurisdictions have declared the outbreak a public health emergency and a vaccination campaign is underway to target groups most at risk of the virus. Supplies of Jynneos, the only vaccine licensed against monkeypox in the U.S., do not come close to meeting demand for the shot and U.S. officials have greenlit a dose-saving strategy to stretch the stockpile.

Though the outbreak is largely, though not exclusively, limited to men who have sex with men and spread through sexual activity, concern has grown among officials that the disease could spread more widely. The close-contact campus environment, notably dorms, contact sports and sex, have flagged colleges as more likely to experience outbreaks. At least five schools—Georgetown University, George Washington University, the University of Texas at Austin, Bucknell University and West Chester University—have already reported monkeypox cases, according to STAT News.

McGill’s Klein said it is “inevitable” that monkeypox will spillover into populations other than men who have sex with men, which could happen more easily in situations where people are living in close quarters. “There is no need for panic,” Klein stressed, urging strong and sensible messaging on how monkeypox is transmitted and reinforcing “messages about how to be safe when having sex,” especially with casual contacts. “Making vaccines easily available in safe spaces for those at risk would also go a long way to helping stem any potential outbreaks on campus,” Klein added.

I am a senior reporter for the Forbes breaking news team, covering health and science from the London office. Previously I worked as a reporter for a trade publication

Source: Monkeypox: Here’s How Colleges Are Preparing For Possible Outbreaks As Students Return

Critics by: Nicole Karlis

One of the first public health measures triggered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was mass closure of daycares and schools. Indeed, the proximity with which students and teachers congregate in close quarters means that viruses are more apt to spread in such conditions, which made school closures a sensible means of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Then, last week, news broke that an Illinois daycare worker tested positive for monkeypox. While the worker is isolating, it remains unclear how many children — if any — were exposed to the virus while the infected person was at work. The news raises questions over whether schools, daycares, and the like are safe — from monkeypox — for both workers and their charges.

“An adult at a day-care center in the Rantoul area has tested positive for a case of monkeypox,” Dr. Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said at a news briefing. “Screening of children and other staff is taking place now.” As parents gear up to send their children back to school, should they expect monkeypox outbreaks to occur in school and daycare settings?

The answer to that requires understanding the way that monkeypox spreads, and how it differs from COVID-19.  Monkeypox symptoms start within two to three weeks after exposure to the virus. The primary mode of transmission for monkeypox is skin-on-skin contact or contact with contaminated items.

Currently, there are more than 7,500 confirmed cases in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is nearly double the number of cases since late July. Last week, the Biden administration declared the monkeypox a public health emergency. While transmission is mostly occurring in adult men, in the United States there have been at least five reported pediatric cases.


Yet experts are optimistic about the safety of schools. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California–Davis, told Salon he doesn’t anticipate K-12 schools to be particularly rife with outbreaks this school year.“Since transmission is primarily via prolonged skin to skin contact,” Blumberg said. “So of course children horse around and they might have skin to skin contact, but usually it’s not prolonged during most activities.”

Blumberg added that another way monkeypox could be transmitted in a school setting is via contaminated linens or bedding. Unlike COVID-19, which is more transmissible but usually less severe for children, monkeypox is less transmissible but can pose a higher risk of severe disease for children under the age of 8.

“I suppose during nap time if kids are sharing bedding or linens, it’s possible that there might be transmission,” Blumberg said. “But most schools and daycares, for now, have their own dedicated area, their own dedicated space, for nap time.”

Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist University of Illinois–Chicago, told Salon via email that monkeypox could potentially spread at school “by touching someone’s rash/lesions, exchanging body fluids via kissing or prolonged face to face contact, hugging, etc.”

“So, it’s best (for [monkeypox virus] and for COVID-19 reasons) to emphasize giving each other space in the classroom and not touching one another,” Wallace said. According to the CDC, monkeypox spreads through direct contact with body fluids or sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox. It can also spread through sores that have been in contact with someone who is infected, or materials that have touched body fluids — for example, clothing or bedsheets.

Monkeypox may also spread through respiratory droplets when people have close face-to-face contact. However, experts say this is not the main mode of transmission. According to data from the World Health Organization, 91.4 percent of cases have been linked to sexual contact.

Wallace agreed it is possible for a monkeypox outbreak to occur in communities like college campuses. Understandably, this raises questions about college students in a university setting. “If students are having prolonged skin to skin contact with many others, such as having sex with multiple partners, that will be a risk factor for transmission,” Blumberg said. “And in that case, it’s easy to prevent transmission — if somebody has a rash, then they shouldn’t have prolonged skin to skin contact with others until they get that rash diagnosed and make sure it’s non-infectious.”

Wallace agreed it is possible for a monkeypox outbreak to occur in communities like college campuses.”It is important that colleges and universities are prepared to provide public health education/information about monkeypox to students, have testing/medical resources available to if students develop symptoms, and have an isolation protocol ready,” Wallace said.

Still, there are reasons to protect younger children from any exposure to monkeypox. Unlike COVID-19, which is more transmissible but usually less severe for children, monkeypox is less transmissible but can pose a higher risk of severe disease for children under the age of 8, as noted by the CDC based on limited pediatric data on infection.

“Children who have monkeypox are at higher risk for severe disease and higher fatality rates have been reported in children less than eight years of age,” Blumberg said. “There’s a variety of complications that may occur, including inflammation of different organs, myocarditis, meningitis” — hence the concern about young children being infected.

Notably,  there are vaccines for monkeypox, although supply is limited. As Salon previously reported, the U.S. has released the Jynneos vaccine against monkeypox from the Strategic National Stockpile. Meanwhile, those who received the smallpox vaccine before it stopped being regularly given in the 1970s will likely have protection against monkeypox. While the Jynneos vaccine isn’t being publicly offered to kids nor is it licensed for children, those who have been exposed to it can be vaccinated if it is recommended by the local health departments.

As noted by CDC, Jynneos has been used in studies as part of vaccines against other diseases including tuberculosis, measles, and Ebola. These studies included children as young as five months old, and were found to have no adverse health effects or safety concerns. For worried parents, Blumberg said it is a good idea to make sure that daycares and schools and policies are in place to prohibit potentially infectious staff and students.

“Most schools and daycares do have policies in place so that if somebody is suspected to be infectious to others, they are excluded — and for monkeypox, the key would be an undiagnosed rash,” Blumberg said. “There are many different infections that may cause rashes that may be transmitted to others — so schools and daycares should be pretty experienced with screening for rashes.”

Wallace emphasized how different monkeypox is from SARS-CoV-2, stating bluntly: “this is not COVID-19.””It spreads very differently and is nowhere near as contagious,” Wallace said. “If your child develops symptoms, definitely see a health care provider before sending the child back to school.”

Related contents:

California monkeypox response is bumpy, but builds on some lessons from COVID Jefferson Public Radio

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CDC Approves COVID-19 Vaccines For Children Under 5

U.S. health advisers on Saturday recommended COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — the last group without the shots.The advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously decided that coronavirus vaccines should be opened to children as young as 6 months. On Saturday afternoon, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the panel’s recommendation.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra released a statement calling the CDC’s move a “major milestone.”

“Thanks to the FDA and CDC’s rigorous, comprehensive, and independent review of the data, and their strict commitment to following the science, we are reaching another major milestone in our efforts to protect more children, their families, and our communities as we work to end the pandemic,” Becerra said. “We are following the data and science as we make sure all Americans are eligible and have access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to prevent severe disease and save lives. Based on CDC and FDA actions, we now know that vaccination for our children 6 months through 5 years old is safe and effective and we are ready to get millions of children vaccinated.”

The White House also weighed in on the decision in a statement calling the CDC’s decision a “monumental step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus.””For parents all over the country, this is a day of relief and celebration,” President Biden said in the statemente. “As the first country to protect our youngest children with COVID-19 vaccines, my Administration has been planning and preparing for this moment for months, effectively securing doses and offering safe and highly effective mRNA vaccines for all children as young as six months old.

“While the Food and Drug Administration OKs vaccines, it’s the CDC that decides who should get them. The government has been gearing up for the start of the shots early next week, with millions of doses ordered for distribution to doctors, hospitals and community health clinics around the country. Roughly 18 million kids will be eligible, but it remains to be seen how many will ultimately get the vaccines. Less than a third of children ages 5 to 11 have done so since vaccination opened up to them last November.

Two brands — Pfizer and Moderna — got the green light Friday from the FDA. The vaccines use the same technology but are being offered at different dose sizes and number of shots for the youngest kids.

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Pfizer’s vaccine is for 6 months through 4 years. The dose is one-tenth of the adult dose, and three shots are needed. The first two are given three weeks apart, and the last at least two months later. Moderna’s is two shots, each a quarter of its adult dose, given about four weeks apart for kids 6 months through 5. The FDA also approved a third dose, at least a month after the second shot, for kids with immune conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious illness.

Two doses of Moderna appeared to be only about 40% effective at preventing milder infections at a time when the omicron variant was causing most COVID-19 illnesses. Pfizer presented study information suggesting the company saw 80% with its three shots. But the Pfizer data was so limited — and based on such a small number of cases — that experts and federal officials say they don’t feel there is a reliable estimate yet.

Hospitalizations surged during the omicron wave. Since the start of the pandemic, about 480 children under age 5 are counted among the nation’s more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, federal data show. “It is worth vaccinating, even though the number of deaths are relatively rare, because these deaths are preventable through vaccination,” said Dr. Matthew Daley, a Kaiser Permanente Colorado researcher who sits on the advisory committee.

U.S. officials expect most shots to take place at pediatricians’ offices. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their kids at their regular doctor, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. He predicted the pace of vaccination to be far slower than it was for older populations.

Pediatricians, other primary care physicians and children’s hospitals are planning to provide the vaccines. Limited drugstores will offer them for at least some of the under-5 group. U.S. officials expect most shots to take place at pediatricians’ offices. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their kids at their regular doctor, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. He predicted the pace of vaccination to be far slower than it was for older populations.

“We’re going see vaccinations ramp up over weeks and even potentially over a couple of months,” Jha said. It’s common for little kids to get more than one vaccine during a doctor’s visit. In studies of the Moderna and Pfizer shots in infants and toddlers, other vaccinations were not given at the same time so there is no data on potential side effects when that happens. But problems have not been identified in older children or adults when COVID-19 shots and other vaccinations were given together, and the CDC is advising that it’s safe for younger children as well.

About three-quarters of children of all ages are estimated to have been infected at some point. For older ages, the CDC has recommended vaccination anyway to lower the chances of reinfection.Experts have noted re-infections among previously infected people and say the highest levels of protection occur in those who were both vaccinated and previously infected. The CDC has said people may consider waiting about three months after an infection to be vaccinated.

Source: CDC approves COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 | Fox Business

Related contents:

What To Know About How Monkeypox Spreads—And Whether You Should Wear A Mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sparked confusion over monkeypox this week after deleting a recommendation for travelers to wear face masks to protect against the disease, a u-turn that shed light on the different ways the virus spreads amid escalating outbreaks across Europe and North America—here’s what to know about how the disease is transmitted.

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and is transmitted through prolonged close contact with an infected animal or person or objects contaminated by someone with an infection like towels, clothes or bedding.The virus mainly spreads via direct contact with infectious monkeypox sores, scabs or bodily fluids, though it can also be transmitted via respiratory droplets, the kind of large particles produced when people breathe, talk, cough or sneeze.

These respiratory droplets do not travel very far and drop to the ground quickly, Dr. Jake Dunning, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Oxford, told Forbes. It’s not clear whether or not monkeypox can also spread via aerosol—tiny liquid particles that can linger in the air—a mode of transmission often used to designate a disease “airborne.”

Dunning called the term “unhelpful” as many people use it to describe different things, though said it is possible that short-range aerosols could be involved in transmitting monkeypox. More research will be needed to know for sure, he said, adding that he would be “surprised” if research showed long-range aerosol transmission, given current evidence suggesting long-range transmission is unlikely.

If monkeypox can be transmitted sexually. A significant portion of the monkeypox cases identified in Europe and the U.K. have been among men who identify as gay or bisexual or have sex with other men with no history of travel to parts of Africa where monkeypox is endemic. While the virus is not known to be sexually transmitted—though a degree of close physical contact can be assumed—the pattern had scientists wondering if other modes of transmission were involved and experts have cautioned against stigmatizing members of the community.

Experts stress the risk from monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men and note the pattern could be explained by other factors. These could include health officials searching for, and thus finding, more cases within this group, members of the community being more proactive about their sexual health and more likely to visit clinics or the disease spreading thorugh sexual and social networks.

Researchers in Europe recently detected monkeypox virus in the semen of several patients, however, suggesting direct sexual transmission may be possible. Further research will be needed to determine whether this is the case, Dunning said. It’s not clear how the virus came to be in the seminal fluid or whether it was “added” at some point after ejaculation, he explained.

On Monday, the CDC raised its alert on monkeypox to Level 2—the level below advising against non-essential travel—updating its guidance and encouraging travelers to “practice enhanced precautions.” The guidance, which stressed the risk to the general public is “low,” advised those traveling to areas where there’s a monkeypox outbreak to avoid contact with sick people, contaminated materials and wild animals.

It also suggested travelers wear masks to help protect against monkeypox, though the agency quietly removed this recommendation, stating it had “caused confusion.” The agency does still recommend face masks, alongside other protective gear, for those who may be in close contact with a confirmed monkeypox patient and health workers caring for monkeypox patients. Dr. Hugh Adler from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Oxford’s Dunning both told Forbes masks are worn in clinical settings as part of a standard set of protective equipment for dealing with diseases like monkeypox.

On their own, masks may not be that useful in protecting against monkeypox given the multiple ways the disease can spread, they added. Given the very low risk of the general public coming into contact with someone with monkeypox, Adler said wearing masks doesn’t make a lot of sense. Dunning said the debate over masks is similar to discussions going on around the world with several other emerging infections and is “heavily influenced” by the Covid-19 pandemic.

45. That’s how many cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the CDC. More than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in nearly 30 countries outside of Africa, according to public health data compiled by Global.Health, a team of researchers and technologists tracking the outbreak. The majority of these are in Europe—the U.K. has identified 321 cases, Spain 198, Portugal 191 and Germany 113—with a notable cluster of 110 cases in Canada. More cases are suspected but not confirmed.

Orthopoxviruses like monkeypox are “hardy and stable” and can survive for weeks or months in shed skin flakes and dust if the conditions are right, Oxford’s Dunning told Forbes. This means items like contaminated bedding or towels used by monkeypox patients could theoretically pose an infection risk for a long time. “Clouds” of skin flakes or dust that might form when changing the bed of an infected person could, for example, pose a risk of infection, Dunning added, though more research will be needed to examine the possibility.

Monkeypox gaining a foothold. Monkeypox is not a new virus and is a well-known entity that has been circulating in parts of Central and Western Africa for decades. It’s typically mild and goes away on its own in a month or so—though it can be lethal and is more dangerous for children and pregnant people—and there are several useful vaccines and treatments available designed to tackle smallpox, a similar virus that has been eradicated.

Experts, including WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, say the sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox in multiple countries at once suggests the virus may have been circulating undetected in non-endemic countries for some time, though it’s unclear for how long. While Tedros said it’s not too late to contain the outbreaks at the moment, he warned there is a “real” risk of the virus “becoming established in non-endemic countries.”

It’s possible the virus could spread to wild animal populations and gain a foothold outside of Africa that way, several researchers studying how viruses spread from animals to humans told Forbes. Rodents—which are suspected of harboring the virus in Africa—and squirrels are the most likely animal reservoirs in the U.S., University of Minnesota virologist Matthew Aliota said, and Georgetown University’s Ellen Carlin said the animals should be an “important planning consideration” for officials tackling the outbreak.

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance

Source: What To Know About How Monkeypox Spreads—And Whether You Should Wear A Mask

Related News:

Monkeypox Can Be Airborne, Too

Here Are The Companies That Could Profit As Governments Scramble To Secure Monkeypox Treatments And Vaccines

Monkeypox: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Rare Virus Found In The U.S., U.K. And Europe

Monkeypox is a new global threat. African scientists know what the world is up against

Monkeypox vaccination begins — can the global outbreaks be contained?

“Signs and Symptoms Monkeypox”.

Transmission Monkeypox”

“2003 U.S. Outbreak Monkeypox”

Human monkeypox”

“Treatment | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC”.

Smallpox Vaccine Supply & Strength”. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

“FDA approves first live, non-replicating vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox”.

Treatment | Monkeypox | Poxvirus

Multi-country monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries”. World Health Organization.

Monkeypox cases reported in these countries so far. Check full list here”.

“Monkeypox cases investigated in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia”

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Monkeypox Likely Spread By Sex at 2 Raves In Europe

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann. That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spilled across borders.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Australia. Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets, but sexual transmission has not yet been documented. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization.

Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed. So far, public health agencies in Europe have confirmed cases in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

In a statement on Friday, the WHO said that the recent outbreaks “are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries”. It said it was “working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected”.

It is not yet clear why this unusual outbreak is happening now. One possibility is that the virus has changed in some way, although currently there is little evidence to suggest this is a new variant. Another explanation is that the virus has found itself in the right place at the right time to thrive.

Monkeypox may also spread more easily than it did in the past, when the smallpox vaccine was widely used. WHO’s Europe regional director Hans Kluge warned that “as we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate”.

He added that all but one of the recent cases had no relevant travel history to areas where monkeypox was endemic. The first case of the disease in the UK was reported on 7 May. The patient had recently travelled to Nigeria, where they are believed to have caught the virus before travelling to England, the UK Health Security Agency said.

There are now 20 confirmed cases in the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Friday. Authorities in the UK said they had bought stocks of the smallpox vaccine and started offering it to those with “higher levels of exposure” to monkeypox. Spanish health authorities have also reportedly purchased thousands of smallpox jabs to deal with the outbreak, according to Spanish newspaper El País.

Australia’s first case was detected in a man who fell ill after travelling to the UK, the Victorian Department of Health said. In North America, health authorities in the US state of Massachusetts confirmed that a man has been infected after recently travelling to Canada. He was in “good condition” and “poses no risk to the public”, officials said.

By:

Source: Expert: Monkeypox likely spread by sex at 2 raves in Europe

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Future COVID Variants Will Likely Reinfect Us Multiple Times a Year, Experts Say

For more than a year now, the original COVID-19 vaccines have held up remarkably well — even miraculously so — against a Greek alphabet of new variants: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta.

But now experts say something is changing. Since the start of 2022, the initial version of Omicron, known as BA.1, has been spinning off new sublineages — BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, BA.5 — at an alarming pace.

Earlier variants did this too. But it never really mattered, because their offshoots “had no functional consequence,” according to Eric Topol, founder of Scripps Research Translational Institute. “They did not increase transmissibility or pathogenicity.”

Today’s rapidly proliferating Omicron mutants are different, however. They all have one worrisome trait in common: They’re getting better and better at sidestepping immunity and sickening people who were previously shielded by vaccination or prior infection.

The virus, in other words, is now evolving faster — and in a more consequential way — than ever before. Given the increasing speed of immune evasion, and what this pattern portends for the future, experts warn that the time has come to rethink our reliance on the vaccine status quo and double down on next-generation vaccines that can actually stop infection.

“As difficult [as] it is to mentally confront, we must plan on something worse than Omicron in the months ahead,” Topol wrote on May 15. “We absolutely need an aggressive stance to get ahead of the virus — for the first time since the pandemic began — instead of surrendering.”

The brewing storm of BA sublineages isn’t all bad news. COVID cases have been rising nationwide since the beginning of April, nearly quadrupling over the last six weeks to more than 90,000 per day on average. Yet both COVID deaths (about 300 per day) and ICU patients (about 2,000 total) are still at or approaching record lows — even though other countries with bigger gaps in previous exposure or vaccination have been hit hard, and even though new research shows that Omicron and its spinoffs are not, in fact, intrinsically less severe or deadly than prior variants, contrary to early assumptions.

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Source: Future COVID variants will likely reinfect us multiple times a year, experts say — unless we invest in new vaccines

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The new variants have not altered the fundamental usefulness of the Covid vaccines. Most people who have received three or even just two doses will not become sick enough to need medical care if they test positive for the coronavirus. And a booster dose, like a previous bout with the virus, does seem to decrease the chance of reinfection — but not by much.

At the pandemic’s outset, many experts based their expectations of the coronavirus on influenza, the viral foe most familiar to them. They predicted that, as with the flu, there might be one big outbreak each year, most likely in the fall. The way to minimize its spread would be to vaccinate people before its arrival.

Instead, the coronavirus is behaving more like four of its closely related cousins, which circulate and cause colds year round. While studying common-cold coronaviruses, “we saw people with multiple infections within the space of a year,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York.

If reinfection turns out to be the norm, the coronavirus is “not going to simply be this wintertime once-a-year thing,” he said, “and it’s not going to be a mild nuisance in terms of the amount of morbidity and mortality it causes.”

Reinfections with earlier variants, including Delta, did occur but were relatively infrequent. But in September, the pace of reinfections in South Africa seemed to pick up and was markedly high by November, when the Omicron variant was identified, Dr. Pulliam said.

Reinfections in South Africa, as in the United States, may seem even more noticeable because so many have been immunized or infected at least once by now.

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