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Expert says monkeypox infections unlikely to become pandemic

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles, left, and spherical immature particles, right.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner
/
CDC via AP
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles, left, and spherical immature particles, right.

The interview posted above is from SDPB’s daily public affairs show In the Moment with Lori Walsh.

The recent emergence of monkeypox in the United States has caused concern about how far and fast the disease will spread.

David Basel, vice president of clinical quality with Avera Medical Group, says this disease will not likely reach infection levels of COVID-19.

“We’ve just got a handful of cases throughout the U.S.,” Basel said. “One of the advantages of why a lot of folks think this is not going to become a huge pandemic … is that it’s not really spread through the air much. It mainly spreads direct person-to-person contact.”

There are currently no confirmed cases of monkeypox in South Dakota. The closest state with reported cases is Colorado.

Basel says the risk of contracting monkeypox for those who have not had close contact with exposed persons is small.

“The risk of most South Dakotans is going to be very, very small at this point,” he said. “But we are trying to get the word out … to health care workers, so that if anybody does see a case of it, that we can get it identified and isolated in that very rare likelihood that we do see a case.”

Monkeypox is in the same virus family as smallpox, though it is much less deadly. Its symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that will turn into lesions or blisters.

Historically, monkeypox only popped up in West and Central Africa in small numbers. This is the world’s first global outbreak.

Basel and other experts are connecting these new outbreaks to the eradication of smallpox more than 40 years ago.

Because smallpox and monkeypox belong to the same viral family, immunities to smallpox also protected against monkeypox.

Once smallpox was eliminated, no one needed to be vaccinated against it, leaving them no immunity to fight monkeypox.

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