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Monkeypox Spreads To 19 Countries: All You Need To Know – NDTV





Monkeypox Virus: There was a monkeypox outbreak of 71 cases in the US in 2003. (File)

The World Health Organization has revealed that there are now 131 confirmed cases of monkeypox, and a further 106 suspected cases, in 19 countries. Experts describe the event as “random” but “containable” and was likely sparked initially by sexual activity at recent raves in Spain and Belgium.

Nevertheless, with the world still reeling from the effects of the covid pandemic, the rise of a different disease is putting many people on edge.

Bloomberg Opinion’s Bobby Ghosh hosted a live Twitter Space discussion with Bloomberg Intelligence senior pharmaceutical analyst Sam Fazeli to get the lowdown on the disease and find out whether we should be worried.

Bobby Ghosh: Let me start by asking the most basic question possible: What is monkeypox?

Sam Fazeli: There are, seemingly, an endless number of viruses that circulate in nature. This happens to be one of them. It’s an orthopoxvirus, like other well-known diseases like chickenpox and smallpox. Monkeypox is less problematic than smallpox was in terms of the mortality rate. The virus which is currently circulating seems to be the strain that is endemic in West Africa.

We’ve known about two strains for a few decades. Both are endemic in different parts of Africa – Central Africa and West Africa, respectively – and there have been occasional cases reported outside of the African continent, usually from someone traveling from an affected area. This outbreak seems quite unusual in that cases are being reported in so many different parts of the world all at the same time. What’s happening?

There was actually an outbreak of 71 cases in the US in 2003, not because of a person traveling but because of imported rodents from Ghana. Those rodents then infected pet prairie dogs, who then infected people. There was a possibility of some local transmission back then, but it certainly was passed on from animals to humans. That’s a problem we’re dealing with in many of these viral outbreaks, from bird flu to covid.

In terms of today’s unusual outbreak, we have to be aware that it’s too early to be able to be sure whether the virus has genuinely been separately seeded in different countries or whether at least most of the cases came from a super spreader event. The best way to know how related the cases are is to sequence them. The first genome was published by Portuguese scientists and they found that the virus seems to be quite close to the virus which was found in several countries in 2018 and 2019. That already tells you that it hasn’t necessarily changed a lot. Although all of this is up for revision, it suggests that hopefully we’ll find that the majority of these cases are actually related.

In passing, it’s worth just unpacking that, although it is called monkeypox, it doesn’t really come from monkeys. We only began to pay attention to it when monkeys began to get it. Does it originate with simians now? What do we know about how the disease is transmitted?

Orthopox viruses, especially monkeypox, are viewed as generalists. That means this virus can and does infect a variety of species. Rodents are the most common vehicles for infection, then it jumped to monkeys and now humans. The transmission can happen relatively easily, not necessarily through a specific route. In this case, the view is that it’s spread through contact with contaminated fluids from an infected person and it needs to be relatively close contact.

The likelihood is that the majority of transmission will be when you’re either in very close proximity to somebody who’s got the virus, so you’re picking up their exhaled droplets, or you’re in physical contact with them. It could also be passed on via fomites – touching a surface that someone infected has touched.

There have been some reports suggesting that it happens mostly through intimate contact, including really close proximity or having sex with a person.

I think we have to be very careful not to misinterpret the conversation and the information that’s coming out. Just because the majority of cases have been found in men who have sex with men doesn’t mean anything with regards to sexual transmission. We are only looking at the way this particular spread happened. It could have easily been any other kind of intimate contact, heterosexual or whatever.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

It starts with a headache and fever, the usual things that you deal with when you get a viral infection. These symptoms are basically your defense system kicking in. A lot of viruses don’t like higher temperatures, which is why the body raises its temperature. We get a headache and muscle aches because of all the chemicals – such as cytokines – which get released to fight the infection. Then, within a week or two, some people get a rash which develops into pustules.

If you’re covered in these pustules, then you’d have the risk of bacterial infection and, in some cases, sepsis. That’s where the lethality can come from.

There have been zero deaths so far in this particular cluster. The 1-3 percent mortality rate or the 10-13 percent mortality rate for the Central African strain has been mentioned a lot, but you have to remember that, just like covid, it depends on how patients are looked after. If a patient is at home with no oxygen available, no ICU, no medical professionals looking after them, their risk of death is higher. That may be the situation in rural Africa where these numbers have been calculated, but in countries with good healthcare and drugs, I’m sure the fatality rate will remain below 1 percent – 0 percent, hopefully!

The symptoms remind me of my childhood when I got chickenpox. I was bedridden for several days and I remember it being very uncomfortable. Then it went away.

Do we have a sense of whether monkeypox is more painful, or more threatening than chickenpox?

It’s a much more uncomfortable infection if you get the full-blown pustules on your skin, but it varies. I’ve heard of a case where somebody was infected who had previously been vaccinated against smallpox. They had just one or two lesions, which is nothing. That’s what you assume and hope is going to be the case with most people who have been vaccinated already. The question is around folks who aren’t vaccinated. How bad do they get it?

I grew up in India in the 1970s and 80s and I was vaccinated for smallpox as a child. Then smallpox was eradicated and in many countries, vaccines were no longer given.

Does that make us more vulnerable to monkeypox?

Yes, I think it does, which is what’s likely going on here. There was the suggestion that maybe the covid lockdowns increased our susceptibility to disease. You might say that for flu and the coronavirus, both of which are respiratory viruses. Really in this case, I think it’s just a coincidence. We have an endemic virus in Central and West Africa which has then been given an opportunity to spread among a population of people who have never seen an infection or a vaccine that gives them protection against the virus.

It’s good news that the vaccine already exists, unlike with covid. We have vaccines that work both prophylactically as well as after one has got the disease.

So they can be preventative as well as a cure?

Correct, a few days after a diagnosis of infection, the vaccine seems to still do the job. The interesting thing is that both vaccines are manufacturable today. Stocks may not be as high as one would like in situations like this, but many countries had already been stockpiling it, not in fear of monkeypox, but in fear of a bio-terrorism attack by smallpox.

The disease is less transmissible than covid, you don’t need everybody to get vaccinated. You can use it to treat people who get diagnosed and vaccinate the people around them. This method is called ring vaccination, and it’s proven successful in controlling smallpox before.

There was a great deal of discussion about whether poor countries would be able to afford covid vaccines. Is that an issue for monkeypox vaccines?

The covid vaccine from Pfizer was between $15 and $20 a shot. For most of us who live in England, Sweden or the United States, that’s not expensive given the protection it gives you. I expect that for controlling and better managing the global spread of this virus, the equivalence of COVAX will buy vaccines for countries who can’t afford it. At the same time, the cost is determined clearly by the volume. If we only need one million doses, as opposed to a 400 million doses, then companies will probably have to charge a little bit higher because margins will be lower at those sorts of volumes. I’m not expecting this to be a very expensive vaccine.

That’s reassuring. How have leaders responded to monkeypox? President Biden felt compelled to answer a question about it during his trip abroad in South Korea. Have we learned things from our fight with covid at a policy level that are particularly useful in dealing with monkeypox?

The good thing is, as we’ve said already, that this is not a disease which we’ve never dealt with before, even if it may not be necessarily the living memory of many people. It’s only 50 years ago or so that we stopped the smallpox vaccination programs. Bavarian Nordic, one of the manufacturers of a smallpox vaccine, apparently already had meetings with health authorities from several countries just in the past few days, which were arranged six months ago. That shows countries were already thinking about this — whether it was more smallpox than monkeypox that they were thinking of doesn’t really matter.

Is there any reason to think monkeypox is seasonal?

At the time of year when people are more outdoors than indoors, you’d expect most infections, especially respiratory ones, to decline. This is transmitted by contact. So I don’t think we can classify it as seasonal.

What about variants – which have been a real issue with covid? Has the monkeypox virus shown any sign of developing new variants that are resistant to the existing treatments?

It’s way too early to know. Nigeria gathers great epidemiology data, but with the number of monkeypox cases, it’s not anywhere near the scale of SARS-CoV-2. With SARS-CoV-2 also being an RNA virus, it probably has a higher opportunity to mutate.

The early data that we do have from the Portuguese scientists suggests the virus’s genome is similar to what it was in 2018 and 2019, and that’s quite reassuring. When viruses multiply at high levels, you can’t escape the fact that mutations will occur. So we’ll have to monitor it.

What do we do to protect ourselves from monkeypox?

We’ve had this with covid. There are choices that we can all make in our lives relative to our own circumstances, such as opting to wear a mask. If you’re worried or feel threatened, you can take precautions. I think the expectation by most scientists is that this will self-limit eventually, especially when the awareness is so heightened, because it doesn’t transmit that easily.

Now that it’s been a couple of weeks since the story broke and there have been cases reported in various countries, are we already seeing more research being devoted to this outbreak?

I know that the genomics folks are working 24-7 on sequencing the genomes of the virus to better understand the epidemiology. That’s the best way when you only have 200 cases of knowing how these incidents are potentially related to each other. We already have at least two drugs that could treat the virus and two vaccines, at least. So I don’t think we need to do enormous amounts of research. What we do need to do here is to have the right healthcare public health policy in place to manage it and decide where do we go next. Do we go back and vaccinate everybody that wasn’t vaccinated, or do we just manage it using ring vaccination?

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Toronto Public Health hosting pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout Canada Day weekend –



Toronto Public Health continues to host summer pop-up vaccination clinics across the city in partnership with Toronto’s Canada Day festivals and special events. This is part of Team Toronto’s continued efforts to bring COVID-19 vaccination opportunities to places residents live, work and play.

“As people gather to celebrate Canada Day across the city, Team Toronto will be out helping residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 and keep their vaccinations up to date,” said Mayor John Tory. “We have made such progress thanks to our world-leading vaccination efforts, and that’s why we’re continuing to work throughout this holiday and into the summer to help deliver vaccine doses.”

TPH will host the following vaccination clinics in early July:

• High Park Canada Day Festival at High Park, 1873 Bloor St. W., Friday, July 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• East York Canada Day Festival at Stan Wadlow Park. 373 Cedarvale Ave., Friday, July 1, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Canada Day event at Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St. Friday, July 1, 2 to 7 p.m.

• CIMA Mayor’s Cricket Trophy event at Sunnybrook Park, 1132 Leslie St. Saturday, July 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Lakeshore Ribfest at 1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr. Saturday July 2 and Sunday, July 3, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Afrofest at Woodbine Park, 1695 Queen St. E. Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10, 1 to 7:30 p.m.

• Dragon Boat Challenge (GWN Sport Regatta) at Marilyn Bell Park, 1095 Lakeshore Blvd. W. Saturday July 9, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

These family-friendly and youth-friendly clinics will provide first, second, third, fourth and children’s COVID-19 doses to eligible residents age five and up on a walk-in basis, with no appointment or health card required. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be offered by TPH nurses, who will also answer COVID-19 and vaccine-related questions.

Residents can continue to get vaccinated at city-run immunization clinics, primary care offices and more than 525 pharmacies. A full list of clinic locations and hours is available on the City’s COVID-19: Where to Get Vaccinated webpage.

As of Monday, July 4, the city-run immunization clinic at Metro Hall will operate Monday to Friday noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can find a pharmacy offering COVID-19 vaccination by using the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 pharmacy vaccine locations webpage.

All eligible residents are encouraged to get their third and fourth dose as soon as possible. As with vaccines for other diseases, people are protected best when they stay up to date. COVID-19 vaccines have been scientifically proven to lower the risk of illness, hospitalization and death while protecting oneself, loved ones and the community, and residents with three doses had the lowest rates of hospitalization, ICU and death over any other level of vaccination.

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Style File: Smart sunscreens – Montreal Gazette



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Sunscreen is always a good idea.

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Skin cancers are the most common forms of cancer in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. And severe sunburns are noted as “an important risk factor for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers,” according to the agency.

With this in mind, it’s important to slather, smooth, spray — or whatever your chosen format of sun protection may be — this summer.

Here are four smart sunscreen options to consider adding to your daily sun-protection plan:

Tint time

From the French brand La Roche-Posay, this “ultralight” sunscreen formula features a universal tint to match most skin tones. See you later, face makeup. The Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra Fluid boasts a sun protection factor (that’s the SPF) of 50, thanks to 100 per cent mineral filters. Suitable for sensitive skin, the broad-spectrum sunscreen — it blocks both UVA and UVB rays, is sweat resistant and water resistant for up to 40 minutes.

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$35.95 | Shoppers Drug Mart,

Double duty

This advanced sunscreen formula from Shiseido acts as a moisturizer, sunscreen and face primer all-in-one formula. The Urban Environment Oil-Free Sunscreen has an SPF of 42 and features skin-loving ingredients such as spirulina and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and smooth skin while broad-spectrum UV filters protect against ultraviolet rays.

$45 | Sephora,

Smooth operator

Perfect for those who struggle with acne, this Clear as Day SPF 46 from the brand Starface is vegan and cruelty-free, while also being oil-free and non-comedogenic. The fragrance-free formula features a unique gel texture and is completely clear so there’s no fear of a white cast on skin. Water resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you can spend a little extra time splish-splashing about.

$32 |

All-over option

Sun protection doesn’t stop at the face, neck and décolletage. Introduce head-to-toe coverage to your summer routine with the Garnier Ombrelle Sensitive Expert Body Lotion SPF 60. The hypoallergenic sunscreen formula features broad-spectrum coverage, is fragrance-free, dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic and water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Plus, the lotion formula is easy to apply, and absorbs quickly.

$24.99 | London Drugs,

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Mysterious staggering disease in cats down to previously unknown virus – New Scientist



A previously unknown rustrela virus might be the cause of a staggering disease that affects cats in some parts of Europe


1 July 2022

Pet cats in some parts of Europe can sometimes develop a mysterious disease

Laurie 4593/Shutterstock

The cause of a brain disease in cats that makes them develop symptoms such as staggering is a previously unknown virus, a study suggests. The pathogen is a rustrela virus and is probably carried by wood mice.

The findings show that rustrela viruses are more diverse and widespread than previously thought, according to Kaspar Matiasek at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and his colleagues. They write that the viruses might cause neurological diseases in other mammals …

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