New names for variants of monkeypox virus
GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced new names for variants of the monkeypox virus that are currently in circulation. This is to avoid causing any cultural or social offence, the WHO said. A group of global experts convened by the WHO decided on the new names.
- Experts will now refer to the former Congo Basin clade (group of variants) in Central Africa as Clade I, and the former West African clade as Clade II.
- The latter consists of two sub-clades, Clade IIa and Clade IIb, of which Clade IIb was the main group of variants circulating during the 2022 outbreak.
- The global health agency added that the new names for the clades should be used immediately.
- Newly-identified viruses, related diseases, and virus variants should be given names that avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and which minimise any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.
- The monkeypox virus was named when it was first discovered in 1958. Major variants were identified by the geographic regions where they were known to circulate.
- WHO officially declared late July that the current multi-country monkeypox outbreak had turned into a public health emergency of international concern.
- Monkeypox is a zoonosis, that is, a disease that is transmitted from infected animals to humans.
- According to the WHO, cases occur close to tropical rainforests inhabited by animals that carry the virus. Monkeypox virus infection has been detected in squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and some species of monkeys.
- Human-to-human transmission is, however, limited — the longest documented chain of transmission is six generations, meaning the last person to be infected in this chain was six links away from the original sick person
- Transmission, when it occurs, can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.