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Mass vaccination campaign against Monkeypox needed, experts say – Global News

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As the World Health Organization calculates whether to declare monkeypox a global health emergency, infectious disease experts are urging health officials to be more proactive and start ramping up vaccinations and surveillance — especially in African nations where the virus is most prevalent.

The WHO convened its emergency committee Thursday to consider whether the spiralling outbreak of monkeypox should be declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” the WHO’s highest level of alert.

But the United Nations agency is facing criticism over its treatment of monkeypox — jumping into action only after the disease started to spread in rich western nations.

Read more:

WHO to discuss declaring monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency

The viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions is endemic in parts of Africa, which means it is consistently present in certain regions. The continent has registered just over 1,500 suspected cases since the start of 2022, of which 70 have been fatal, according to the WHO.

By comparison, Canada has confirmed over 200 cases, the majority of which are in Quebec, and has had no deaths.

“There are more cases that occur in Africa on a yearly basis than have already been reported outside of Africa right now. And there are more deaths that have occurred in Africa from monkeypox than have occurred in the rest of the world,” said Dr. Sameer Elsayed, an infectious disease physician and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University.

Read more:

Monkeypox in Canada: 211 confirmed cases reported across the country

That’s why he believes Africa should be getting the lion’s share of resources to deal with monkeypox — and that should include mass vaccinations, he says.

“I think Africa needs to be looked at with high, high priority,” he said.

“It needs to be a mass vaccination campaign for monkeypox with the newer vaccines for people in the African continent, especially in the high endemic areas.”

He’s not alone.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, a physician and infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, says she also believes more people living in regions where monkeypox is more prevalent should be vaccinated.

“That will actually stop it in endemic regions in this non-endemic outbreak.”

That the WHO is only now taking monkeypox seriously is “profoundly problematic,” Gandhi says, given that the disease has been spreading and killing people in Central and West Africa for years.


Click to play video: 'Monkeypox has about half of Canadians worried, but most confident with health response: poll'



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Monkeypox has about half of Canadians worried, but most confident with health response: poll


Monkeypox has about half of Canadians worried, but most confident with health response: poll – Jun 17, 2022

“It’s been circulating since 1958. There are increasing outbreaks — a severe one in Nigeria, for example in 2017 — and it’s only really essentially when this has affected high-income countries that the WHO is jumping on it.”

Experts who have worked on monkeypox in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo have long taken note of rising cases while population immunity to pox viruses has been decreasing, due to lack of vaccination. This is why the world shouldn’t be surprised at the current outbreaks, said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA in California, who has studied monkeypox for two decades.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how quickly a deadly virus can spread across the globe when the right conditions are present, so health officials ought to learn from this and start being more proactive, she said.

“When it comes to infectious diseases, in particular those viruses that have the potential for global spread, it’s much easier to stay out of trouble than it is to have to get out of trouble.”

In addition to providing vaccines, health officials should also be ramping up resources to study this disease and do more surveillance to get a better understanding of monkeypox and learn why it is spreading in new and unusual ways, Rimoin said.

Read more:

Monkeypox outbreak: Case count rises to more than 3,200 globally, says WHO

“We’ve given this virus a lot of runway to be able to spread. We have not been looking for it as vigilantly as we should be,” she said.

“I think we have to learn the lessons that we’ve learned with COVID-19 and that it is much better to invest ahead of time to get in front of these viruses, to do the kind of surveillance it’s necessary to be regularly updating our knowledge about viruses.”

Good disease surveillance is just as important in poorer countries as it is in “high-resource settings,” she added.

Like many countries around the world, Canada and the United States stopped vaccinating the general population against smallpox by around 1972, which means many on this continent are highly susceptible to pox viruses like monkeypox.

Given that scientists expect to see more emerging infectious diseases due to factors such as climate change, deforestation and globalization, the world should start getting better prepared for new outbreaks, Elsayed said.

Read more:

Monkeypox has Canadian researchers scrambling. Why, and how contagious is it?

This is why, in addition to calling for vaccinations and more resources to fight monkeypox in Africa, Elsayed believes governments in developed nations should also consider more options to protect citizens from pox viruses, including possibly re-introducing mass smallpox vaccinations.

“I believe that these vaccines should come on board again for the general population … but not (just) for monkeypox, but also to protect the world against perhaps a smallpox pandemic that can happen in the future, or even another virus that’s closely related to monkeypox but hasn’t reached humans,” Elsayed said.

He stressed this should only be considered after addressing the more pressing needs in Africa first.


Click to play video: 'WHO looks into reports of traces of monkeypox found in semen'



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WHO looks into reports of traces of monkeypox found in semen


WHO looks into reports of traces of monkeypox found in semen – Jun 15, 2022

Rimoin noted that when the world stopped vaccinating against smallpox, it opened a “gap of immunity” for populations to once again be vulnerable to it. And with the emergence of a number of new pox viruses in different parts of the globe, including mousepox, cowpox and camelpox, the world is not immune to new outbreaks, she said.

“We now have to really think about, How important is it for us to be able to keep pox viruses out of the population?” she said. “What are the stakes of allowing this virus to spread? And then acting accordingly.”

-With files from Global News reporter Reggie Checcini and Reuters.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Rapid Polio Spread In New York: All You Need To Know – TheHealthSite

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Poliovirus is found in the sewage of New York; know why this disease is spreading so rapidly.

Polio is a disease that causes children to be crippled early. The polio virus detection in New York City’s sewage indicates that the disease is secretly spreading among people who are not vaccinated. The New York State Health Department and city said the poliovirus detection in its wastewater noted that it was likely to spread locally. Provincial Health Commissioner Dr Mary T. Bassett said the poliovirus discovery in wastewater samples in New York City was terrifying but not startling.

Different Polio Strains

  • There are mainly two strains of the polio virus. One highly lethal and contagious variant has now disappeared, while the other vaccine-derived polio (vaccine-derived polio) has been reported to be rare. This second strain has been found in the wastewater of the UK capital London and the US city of New York. In Israel’s Jerusalem, a genetically similar virus has been found in London and New York.
  • In places like London and New York, cases of vaccine-derived polio have not been reported in the past. However, it is widespread in other countries. In 2021 alone, 415 cases infected with this variant have been reported in Nigeria. The live virus, which reached the body of children as a vaccine, comes out through their faeces after a few weeks. In countries where vaccination has been reduced, this virus can spread again and mutate to become harmful.

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The vaccine containing this live virus is no longer used in countries like Britain and America. Especially now that after covid-19, the restrictions related to travel are over again.

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Why Is Polio Spreading Now?

Derek Ehrhardt, global polio lead at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, says experts agree that vaccine-derived and wild polio strains are still present among low-vaccination populations. According to the United Nations, 1081 vaccine-derived polio cases were reported in 2020, compared to three times fewer cases in the previous year, i.e. 2019. However, even in the year 2022, 177 cases have been reported so far.

This is a matter of even more concern, especially for developing countries like India, because our neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still battling polio infection.

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B.C. drug death toll passes 10,000 since declaration of emergency in 2016: coroner

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VICTORIA — British Columbia’s chief coroner says the province has lost more than 10,000 lives to illicit drugs since the province declared a public health emergency in April 2016.

Lisa Lapointe says the province is on track to lose another record number of people to the toxic drug supply this year, with the number of deaths in the first half of 2022 surpassing those of the same period in 2021.

New data from the coroner’s service says at least 1,095 residents are believed to have died from January to June this year, at an average of six deaths per day.

The report found more than three-quarters of the those who died this year have been male, and most were between the ages of 30 and 59.

The province says illicit drug toxicity is the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C.

In June, Ottawa approved a three-year exception to federal drug laws, and from next year, B.C. will become the first province where people won’t be arrested or charged for possessing up to 2.5 grams of certain illicit drugs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

 

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Why it’s crucial to say that monkeypox is predominately affecting gay and bisexual men – Broadview Magazine

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Monkeypox virus, or MPXV, is an emerging threat to public health. The World Health Organization recently declared the current outbreak a global public health emergency.

For decades, several African countries have experienced ongoing outbreaks of MPXV, driven primarily by contact with animals and transmission within households. However, before last year, most people in Europe and North America had never even heard of the disease. That was until the current outbreak among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

Debates over the epidemiology of MPXV

Over the past several months, a controversy has raged about whether it’s OK to say that the current MPXV outbreak is primarily affecting gay and bisexual men, and that it is primarily being spread through close personal contact, such as sex.

As a social and behavioural epidemiologist working with marginalized populations, including gay and bisexual men, I believe it’s important that people know that sexual and gender minority men are the primary victims of this MPXV outbreak. I believe this knowledge will help us end the outbreak before it bridges into other communities.

For reference, more than 90 percent of cases in non-endemic countries have been transmitted through intimate sexual contact, and the vast majority of cases are among gay men. Very few cases are linked to community transmission.

While these statistics are undisputed, some have feared that identifying sexual behaviour as the primary cause of current MPXV transmission would dampen the public health response. Others have warned that connecting MPXV to an already stigmatized community will worsen stigma towards gay sex.

Non-sexual transmission is possible, and a considerable threat

It is true that MPXV can transmit through more casual contact and through fomites (inanimate objects on which some microbes can survive, such as bed linens, towels or tables).

However, months into the current outbreak, we have not seen these routes emerge as important pathways of transmission. This may be due to changes in the fundamental transmission dynamic of MPXV or due to enhanced cleaning procedures implemented in response to COVID-19 in places such as gyms and restrooms.

Why it’s crucial to know MPXV affects gay and bisexual men

Informing the public about MPXV is important because public opinion plays an important role in shaping public health policies, such as who gets access to vaccines and what interventions are used to stop disease transmission.

A recent study conducted by my team aimed to demonstrate the importance of public health education by asking Canadians to participate in a discrete choice experiment.

We asked participants to choose between two hypothetical public health programs across eight head-to-head comparisons. Descriptions for each hypothetical program identified the number of years of life gained by patients, the health condition it addressed and the population it was tailored for.

From our analyses of this data, we learned a lot about how the public wants public health dollars to be spent and how their knowledge and bias shapes these preferences. There were five major takeaways:

  1. People preferred interventions that added more years to participants’ life expectancy. In fact, for one year of marginal life gained, there was a 15 per cent increase in the odds that participants chose that program.
  2. We found that people tended to favour interventions that focused on treatment rather than prevention. While this approach is emotionally intuitive, large bodies of evidence suggest that it is more cost-effective to prevent disease than to treat it. As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  3. People generally preferred interventions for common chronic diseases — such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer — and were less likely to favour interventions for behaviour-related conditions, such as sexually transmitted infections.
  4. People generally preferred programs focused on the general population as opposed to those tailored for key marginalized populations. In fact, people were least likely to prefer interventions tailored for sexual and gender minorities.
  5. The bias against behavioural interventions and those tailored for key populations was overcome when the programs addressed a health condition that was widely understood to be linked to the population the program was tailored to. For example, people were more likely to support interventions for sexually transmitted infections when these interventions were tailored for people engaged in sex work or for gay and bisexual men.

This study highlights why it is important to educate the public about health inequities. People are smarter, more pragmatic, and more compassionate than we give them credit for. If we take the time to share evidence with them about the challenges that stigmatized communities face, they will be more willing to support policies and efforts to address these challenges.

Ending MPXV quickly is critical, especially since the virus has the potential to evolve in ways that could make the disease more infectious. Protecting gay and bisexual men first, protects everyone.

We should, of course, always be aware of the potential harms and the corrosive effects of stigma. However, in public health, honesty really is the best policy.

***

Kiffer George Card is an assistant professor in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

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