On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) stated that monkeypox can spread before the appearance of symptoms. These researchers provided first-of-its-kind evidence indicating the transmission of the virus in this way.
The monkeypox virus spreads through close contact. It causes symptoms such as fever, body aches, and other painful pus-filled lesions.
Earlier, it was believed that monkeypox was almost entirely spread by sick people. However, the transmission through pre-symptomatic cases was not ruled out. Also, some routine screening picked up cases showing no symptoms.
Findings of the Study
To get more details about the transmission of the virus in Britain, routine surveillance and contact tracing data of 2,746 people were used by a team from UK Health Security Agency. These people tested positive between May and August and their average age was around 38 years.
The study estimated that more than half, i.e. 53% of the transmission happened in the pre-symptomatic phase. This means that the infection cannot be prevented by isolating people if they show symptoms.
The researchers analysed the time from when the symptoms showed in the first case to when symptoms occurred in the second case. They also looked at the incubation period. This is the typical time from viral exposure to the onset of symptoms.
The findings noted that “considerable” transmission happened before the symptoms were detected. Four days was the maximum period when the transmission was detected before symptoms appeared.
Current Status of Monkeypox
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 78,000 confirmed cases and 36 deaths have been reported since. The World Health Organization (WHO) still categorize this outbreak as a global health emergency.
The study question the tackling measure is taken worldwide. It also questions whether isolation people when symptoms appear is enough to prevent the spread of the virus.
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