An ex-World Health Organization (WHO) official claims that monkeypox has been spreading beneath the radar for four years.
Professor David Heymann, a former WHO director-general for health security and the environment, believes the current worldwide outbreak may have started with a few isolated cases in the United Kingdom in 2018.
After returning from Nigeria in September 2018, two Britons were diagnosed with the tropical illness. An NHS worker who treated one of the patients was found to have a third case.
After returning from Nigeria in December 2019, a fourth individual unconnected to the previous three tested positive for the virus. In 2021, three more instances with identical travel histories appeared.
Professor Heymann speculated that the virus was seeded at this time and propagated unrestrained. All of the patients are thought to have had the virus’s milder Western African lineage, which is the same one that is now spreading.
He stated that this was only one of numerous possibilities that needed to be researched before any conclusions could be drawn.
It comes after the first cases of monkeypox in the new epidemic were recorded in Wales and Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 80.
UK health officials are said to be working on an internet dashboard to track case counts, a strategy that stirred debate during the coronavirus outbreak.
Scientists are presently researching the virus’s genome, which is derived from swabs obtained from infected individuals and allows them to follow alterations.
The virus appears to be similar to the one that was discovered in the UK, Israel, and Singapore in 2018 and 2019.
Professor Marc Van Ranst, a virologist at the University of Leuven in Belgium, speculated that the virus had changed to become more infectious, explaining the dramatic increase in illnesses.