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Monkeypox is mutating at an unprecedented rate, according to a study

Researchers studying the monkeypox virus said it appears to have mutated at an unprecedented rate — much faster than experts originally predicted, according to a new study.

The study, published Thursday in the medical journal Nature Medicine, found there were an average of 50 mutations in samples from this year, when only up to 10 would normally be expected.

In the study, a group of Portuguese researchers analyzed the first monkeypox sequence published on May 20, along with 14 additional sequences published before May 27.

The researchers discovered around 50 genetic variations in the viruses, a number six to 12 times higher than previous studies of other orthopoxviruses, a family of viruses that includes monkeypox.

The study states that the mutation rate could indicate a case of “accelerated evolution.”

Monkeypox Symptoms
Monkeypox can cause blisters, pimples, and lesions on the skin.
HANDOUT/UK Health Security Agency/AFP via Getty Images

João Paulo Gomes, co-author and head of the Department of Genomics and Bioinformatics at the National Institutes of Health in Portugal, said the number of mutations was “quite unexpected”.

“Considering that this monkeypox virus of 2022 is likely a descendant of the virus in Nigeria’s 2017 outbreak, one would not expect more than five to 10 additional mutations instead of the 50 or so mutations observed,” he told Newsweek.

    A man is vaccinated at a monkeypox vaccination clinic run by the CIUSSS public health authorities in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
A man is vaccinated at a monkeypox vaccination clinic run by the CIUSSS public health authorities in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

“We hope that specialized groups will now conduct laboratory experiments to understand whether this 2022 virus has increased its transmissibility.”

There are currently more than 3,500 cases of the virus in 44 countries worldwide.

Monkeypox, a viral infection that causes skin lesions, is endemic in certain parts of Africa. But the current outbreak has hit countries where the virus doesn’t normally spread and has raised concerns.

The CDC said there have also been reports of transmission among family members and close contacts.

The virus can be spread by sharing bodily fluids or clothing with an infected person or animal. It can also be contracted by inhaling respiratory droplets while talking to someone.

Monkeypox can cause blisters and pimples on the skin. Patients also report skin rashes after the blisters.

The Biden administration announced this week that tests for the virus would be sent to commercial labs to expand testing and speed up diagnoses, as confirmed cases hit 173 nationwide on Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Monkeypox can infect anyone, but a number of cases in the US and Europe have been found in gay men, leading to health officials urging raising awareness in the community, even though testing is rare and only available to people who meet strict criteria like having lesions, do this can even get tested.

The UK recently announced the launch of a vaccine for gay and bisexual men only.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/24/monkeypox-mutates-at-unprecedented-rate-study-finds/ Monkeypox is mutating at an unprecedented rate, according to a study

JACLYN DIAZ

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