Monkeypox is a rare zoonotic disease. Though linked to the human smallpox virus, it is less contagious. Aside from animal-to-human transmission, person-to-person transmission via direct contact with lesions and respiratory droplets is of great concern; however, there is no consensus regarding the feasibility of airborne transmission.
Since May 2022, the global incidence of monkeypox has grown, inciting fears of a new pandemic. Professor Souha Kanj and colleagues at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon, published a study in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens on September 22 that provides a summary of its clinical features, risk factors, infection control and prevention measures, and potential treatments (El Eid et al., 2022).
Historically, monkeypox was primarily restricted to endemic regions in Western and Central Africa and was spread primarily through direct contact with animals such as certain rodents, primates, and squirrels carrying the virus. However, human-to-human transmission has emerged as the major mechanism of infection in recent years, raising concerns about the previously unnoticed expansion inside the population.
To gain a better understanding of the epidemiological environment of this new outbreak, the scientists undertook a literature review on monkeypox. During the present outbreak, the number of confirmed, probable, and/or potential monkeypox cases in more than seventy-six nations grew by a factor of ten.
The statistics indicate a rise in the incidence of the disease and possible enhanced surveillance. Current instances demonstrated a quick human-to-human transmission, raising concerns about a rapid community spread that was not necessarily tied to travel to Africa.
The review has a number of shortcomings, the most significant of which are the absence of randomized controlled trials on monkeypox treatment and the relatively small sample sizes of the case studies that were conducted. Both of these shortcomings reduce the generalizability of the findings.
The exact risk factors, transmission routes, and potential therapies, as well as the magnitude of the present outbreak, require larger and more thorough research.
According to the authors, “Key gaps in knowledge, such as the specific route of transmission and the involvement of animal reservoirs, require additional research to provide more accurate answers.”
“Sexual mechanisms of transmission, genetic changes, diminishing immunity to smallpox, and unreported incidences of monkeypox in the past demand additional research. Doctors should also be aware of atypical presentations and rely on WHO and CDC standards to assist patients and aid in outbreak containment.”
In light of its global spread and atypical presentation, monkeypox has been labeled a public health emergency requiring special attention and early diagnosis, according to Kanj and co-authors.