Monkeypox: Why I Haven’t Written about It

Frankly, while it’s in the news, a snippet from a recent WHO report is worth noting:

The sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that there might have been undetected transmission for some unknown duration of time followed by recent amplifier events.

World Health Organization

Monkeypox was first identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. As a lesser cousin of the more serious smallpox disease, it didn’t receive the attention that smallpox did. There was no push to eradicate it as was done with smallpox, and there is no rapid test to determine whether someone has Monkeypox. It simply hasn’t been studied.

For that reason, we really don’t know how many people in Europe or the Americas have had this disease. Covid-era tests for sexually-transmitted diseases are starting to flag this virus, but most people never get those tests. Could other people have it? Why not? Could they have been misdiagnosed as having a cold or traditional flu? Again, why not? That’s especially true as the disease tends to abate within four weeks. The death rate from Monkeypox is between 3% and 6% of known cases, and probably much lower if we factor in an estimate of unknown cases.

Some writers are referring to Monkeypox as a sexually transmitted disease. We simply don’t have the data to support that statement. We know how it could be transmitted, but since we don’t know who has it, we can’t say for sure that’s the way most people get it.

I used the military analogy of a “meeting engagement” for Covid. While we’ve known about Monkeypox for much longer, the lack of attention means that we are in another meeting engagement with this disease. What we should have learned from Covid is that jumping to conclusions usually is a mistake.

We didn’t look for Monkeypox and so we didn’t see it. Now we’re looking and finding. That’s not exactly shocking. Was it there all along?

The other thing that mitigates against an overreaction to Monkeypox is that it is a DNA virus, not an RNA virus like Covid. Thus mutations are slower to occur, although, since we haven’t been looking, some appear to have already happened.

Bottom line: Monkeypox could present a significant health risk, but it’s just as likely that something else will come along, like another Covid version, that could be much worse.

Human hubris is the claim that we have complete or almost complete knowledge of our world. We don’t. Smart people really begin to appreciate how much we don’t know with age, as in the line to the Dylan song, “I was so much older than, I’m younger than that now.” (6)

So I’ll keep reading and if something significant crops up that changes the picture, I’ll let you know.

Sources:

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox
  2. https://www.who.int/health-topics/monkeypox/#tab=tab_1
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html
  4. https://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/
  5. https://afludiary.blogspot.com/2022/06/who-situation-update-multi-country.html
  6. The song is “My Back Pages” and there’s a great version on YouTube.

7 comments

    • Agreed. My suspicion is that the disease has been in the human population for several years, largely unnoticed. That’s even more reasonable with reports today that many of those who have tested positive don’t show a skin rash or perhaps have a single lesion.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Defining it or reporting it a being gay spread is putting it into a box that says, we do not need to worry about this in general. That’s how people reported and thought about AIDS/HIV… then is passed on to heterosexual transmission and needle user transmission, as well as blood transfusion transmission. So, will this be the future of Monkeypox – “Since the beginning of the epidemic, 79.3 million [55.9–110 million] people have been infected with the HIV virus and 36.3 million [27.2–47.8 million] people have died of HIV. Globally, 37.7 million [30.2–45.1 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2020.” https://www.google.com/search?q=died+from+aids+hiv&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 – As of now fewer will die but…?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I concur for the most part, and I don’t want anything ignored just because it affects people someone doesn’t like. Frankly, I can recall having a single lesion some 45 years ago that’s similar to what this pox produces.
      Here’s the issue. Gays have been coming in to be tested because the are perhaps more sensitive to lesions in the genital area than are others. That doesn’t mean they’re the only ones with the virus. Once we get a rapid test, the virus is likely to jump back out of that box. On the flip side, it’s not clear how transmission rate compares with other diseases. Even if you gross up the numbers for lack of testing, right now this seems like way down the list in terms of death rate. We don’t know the long term health impact of getting this virus. Because it has been largely ignored, we really don’t know long-term anything about this.
      Of course I could be wrong, but as “the next great disease” goes, I’m not at all sure this is it. I’m more confident that big pharma and the media are looking for something to hype, and scaring people is the best way to tap government funds. My bottom line is that we just don’t have enough hard data, and the “ready, fire, aim” approach that we took with Covid, well that’s a lesson we should have learned.
      And there will be another next great disease.

      Like

      • As some one put it very well, Monkey pox should be pronounced with the ‘k’ silent, Mon’ey pox. Another big pharma scam to make money that’s all and distract from other evils in the world.

        Like

      • Monkeypox is a poor choice of name for a real disease. The numbers thus far haven’t necessarily justified all of the attention, but that may be changing. In any case, having the ignorant shun vaccines is bad for the economy, as the pool of workers and consumers shrinks. That’s part of what we are seeing in the current round of inflation.

        Like

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