'Concerned not alarmed' - expert on monkeypox outbreak

Source: 1News

People should be concerned but not alarmed amid the latest monkeypox outbreak, according to epidemiologist Dr Anne Rimoin.

Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.

However a number of cases have been identified in European countries in recent days, mostly in young men.

Pox virus, illustration. Pox viruses are oval shaped and have double-strand DNA.

Rimoin told Breakfast on Monday it's normal to see new viruses appear in places that we haven't seen before.

"Everybody's tired of hearing about infectious diseases and potential epidemic threats but we do live in a very connected world and with trade and with travel and with changing epidemiological landscapes," she said.

She said this is the first time we've seen multiple infections at the same time around the world in countries other than Africa.

READ MORE: Explainer: What is monkeypox and where is it spreading?

But she says, "it's a disease that in general it tends to be mild, in particular this version of it, the west African version of it which is what's associated with these outbreaks.

"But, you know, it is associated with the 1-3% mortality rate and while I think we've all learned from Covid, (it) doesn't just mean that you have sniffles and it's no problem, you can be pretty sick, you can be hospitalised but generally speaking in high resource settings we've never seen deaths associated."

She said it's the most important pox virus since the eradication of small pox, but we shouldn't panic.

READ MORE: NZ unlikely to see big outbreak of monkeypox - expert

On Sunday University of Otago biochemistry Professor Kurt Krause told 1News New Zealand is unlikely to see a big outbreak of monkeypox.

He said "I think it's really good people are paying attention but it's also important people calm down a little bit and wait till we get more data because it's highly unlikely that it's going to become a major outbreak."

He also added that in the case of an outbreak, New Zealand already has vaccines in place.

"The smallpox vaccines, which were developed for smallpox which resulted in the eradication of smallpox are about 85% effective for monkeypox," Krause said

No cases of the disease have identified in New Zealand yet, but worldwide around 92 cases have been detected, including in Australia.