A veterinary pathologist shares his view of the monkeypox outbreak

Dr. Amy McNeil is a veterinary pathologist who studies and studies smallpox viruses at Colorado State University.

Fort Collins, Colorado – Dr. Amy McNeil teaches and studies smallpox viruses at Colorado State University (CSU). She is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at CSU.

Dr. McNeill sat down with 9News’ Jennifer Michaels to explain what she knows about monkeypox by studying past outbreaks and its impact on animal species.

This interview has been edited for context and length.

9NEWS: Tell us more about the smallpox virus family

“Poxviruses are a very large group of viruses that can infect most animal species on the planet. There are avian pox viruses and avian pox virus that you find in goats, sheep, cattle and humans. Monkeypox virus is a subgroup of poxviruses called orthopoxviruses, a group A very important subspecies because one of its members was smallpox, a horrific infection in humans that has been eradicated by vaccination.”

“The Monkeypox was called a ‘monkeypox’ because it was first isolated and found in monkeys, but we actually don’t think that’s the reservoir. We think the virus reservoir is some squirrels and maybe rodents… So monkeys, like us, are just an indirect species. Monkeypox is really good at causing disease.”

9News: As you monitor the outbreak, is the monkeypox virus behaving the way you expect? Is it evolving as fast as we’ve seen COVID-19 mutate?

They have already sequenced some isolates from this new outbreak and there is no significant change in the genetics of this virus compared to previous outbreaks. So it doesn’t look like COVID did where it changed its genome and now it’s something new. It’s been around for a long time.”

9News: Tell us more about the transmission of the virus – in past outbreaks and today.

Usually interaction with pets or other animal species. A person will catch a pest, and then inadvertently spread it to a family member or someone who has touched or shared food or something. “

We can track [past outbreaks] Where people—usually young children—were interacting with a bush animal, squirrel, or rodent or, in the case of an outbreak in the United States in 2003, prairie dogs were exposed by shipping them with rodents from Africa. “

Unfortunately, what we see [in this current outbreak] Is many people to human spread to people who have complications [sexual] partners. “

“From everything we know, the most common route of transmission is from contact. But we do know that the virus can infect what we call fomites, or clothes or something a person is wearing. Then if you touch those clothes you can get the virus from that.”

9News: What do we know about the severity of this type of monkeypox?

“There are two monkeypox viruses that we know about, one is isolated from West Africa, and the other is the Congo Basin region. Usually the Congo region [strain] It is a slightly more severe disease. They are both terrible, but fortunately they are dealing with the less serious disease which means there will be fewer deaths.”

“But the way [the current outbreak] It is a spread that is not surprising, I think we are dealing with the least serious. I think some people may have fewer pests, or they don’t know they have pests [initially] Because they’re in the oral cavity, the nose, or the rectum – so they don’t see them at first.”

9News: With your interest in smallpox viruses, what are you keeping a close eye on with this outbreak?

“I think my main concern, and the concern of a lot of other smallpox virologists I’ve spoken with is, there will be a reverse transmission to animal populations that will enable monkeypox virus to become epidemic in the rest of the world. For a long time, it was only endemic to species in Africa.” And now I think there is a very high chance that it will become endemic in the United States or Europe.”

“It would be best if we could contain it before it reaches any of our wildlife so that it doesn’t become endemic here.”

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