A monkeypox outbreak is needed for the One Health approach to prevent future zoonotic diseases

The current global outbreak of monkeypox is another warning to adopt a preventative, One Health approach to minimize the risk of future emergence of known and unknown zoonotic pathogens, say Professors Diana Bell and Andrew Cunningham.

The scientists, writing a comment published in the journal CABI One Health, say the world ‘cannot afford to ignore another warning’ like the one presented by monkeypox which has so far seen 62,406 cases in 104 countries and 19 deaths*.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less serious.

With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and the subsequent discontinuation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox became the most important orthopoxvirus for public health, according to the WHO. Monkeypox occurs mainly in central and western Africa, often near tropical rainforests, and is increasingly appearing in urban areas. A range of African rodents appear to be the natural animal hosts of the monkeypox virus.

Professor Bell, Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Professor Cunningham, Deputy Director of Science at the ZSL Institute of Zoology, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), say the consequence The unintended act of smallpox eradication – and the end of the smallpox vaccination campaign – was to “render the world’s human population immunologically naive to orthopoxvirus infection for the first time in history”.

Professors Bell and Cunningham, in their commentary, say: “This has happened at a time when the majority of people in the world live in densely populated cities and where connectivity across the world has never been so high, which facilitates the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.”

“It is therefore not surprising that new zoonotic orthopoxvirus infections have increased in recent years, or that an international epidemic of human monkeypox disease has occurred.”

“A One Health approach, including consideration of land-use change and the trade in bushmeat and exotic pets, is needed to prevent opportunities for the emergence of monkeypox or diseases caused by monkeypox. other orthopoxviruses, and for a rapid and effective response to any epidemic in order to limit their spread.

The researchers highlight three examples where monkeypox has routes of spread and where a One Health approach to its prevention is particularly needed – land use change, the bushmeat trade and the pet trade .

With regard to the bushmeat trade, for example, Professors Cunningham and Bell suggest that the Gambian giant rat, which is a possible carrier of the monkeypox virus, is “commonly consumed due to its relatively large size. large and therefore of particular interest as a potential source of zoonotic infection.

They add that despite extensive legislation prohibiting the importation of endangered taxa, or indeed any wild meat from Africa, significant quantities of bushmeat are smuggled via personal luggage into major European cities and Americans on passenger flights from West and Central African countries where monkeypox is endemic in wild animals.

Regarding the pet trade, scientists say a 2003 outbreak of monkeypox in six US states was traced to a shipment of 800 live small mammals imported from Ghana to Texas. Virological testing of some of these animals revealed MPV infection in three dormice, two rope squirrels and at least one Gambian giant rat.

Professors Bell and Cunningham say: “The demand is global with intercontinental smuggling involving South America and Asia as well as Africa and Europe, fueling biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation crises and increasing the threat of human exposure to known and unknown pathogens harbored by wildlife along trade routes and in destination countries.

They conclude by suggesting that a One Health approach to preventing new zoonotic disease outbreaks could incorporate the promotion of alternatives to bushmeat, routine vaccination of people at high risk of exposure, and education of people on treatment procedures. hygiene such as wearing gloves when handling live and dead wild animals.

Comment reference

Bell, D., and Cunningham, A., “Monkeypox: We Can’t Afford to Ignore Another Warning,” CABI One Health, published September 23, 2022, DOI: 10.1079/cabionehealth20220005

You can read the full commentary here: https://cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/10.1079/cabionehealth20220005

*Monkey pox case

Numbers correct as of September 20, 2022. For updated numbers see: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/world-map.html

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors. See in full here.

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