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Monkeypox may have Undergone Accelerated Evolution

According to a recent study, the Monkeypox virus has undergone a phase of “accelerated evolution” and has changed far more quickly than would be predicted. Since its discovery outside of Africa in May, the virus has infected more than 3,500 individuals in 48 countries. Dozens of additional changes may make the virus more contagious.

According to a recent study released on June 24 in the journal Nature Medicine, the virus has 50 novel mutations in total that were not present in prior strains discovered in 2018 and 2019. (opens in new tab). According to the study’s authors, scientists typically don’t anticipate viruses like Monkeypox to undergo more than one or two changes year.

A uncommon condition known as Monkeypox may naturally occur in rats and monkeys, according to virologists. It is an orthopoxvirus that is indigenous to West and Central Africa and belongs to the same family and genus as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. But this year, the illness began to spread far outside of Africa, shocking experts and prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to start debating whether to declare the epidemic a global health emergency.

According to STAT, Monkeypox virus strains may be divided into two clades, or lineages, called the West African and Congo Basin clades. The mortality rates of the viruses in each branch vary; the West African clade has a fatality rate of about 1%, whereas the Congo Basin clade kills about 10% of those it infects. According to STAT, the West African clade appears to be the main driver of the current pandemic.

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