What is Mpox?
MPox is a rare disease caused by infection with a mpox virus—a type of Orthopoxvirus. It was first discovered in 1958, in colonies of research monkeys, and the first human case was recorded in 1970. There are two clades (types) of virus: West African and Congo Basin. The 2022 outbreak is the West African type, which is considered less deadly.
Why is it called Mpox?
The disease was called “monkeypox” because it was first discovered in the 1950s in two colonies of research monkeys. The actual source of the disease remains unknown. Additionally, although both have the term “pox” in the name; it is not related to chickenpox.
Biobot has aligned with the CDC and the WHO in referring to this virus as mpox.
Who’s currently testing for mpox in wastewater, and where can I find current data?
Many entities at the federal, state, and local levels are currently testing for the mpox virus in wastewater. These include the CDC, universities, private companies, and collaborations between academic institutions and public health departments.
Learn more HERE about how we are partnering with the CDC in monitoring mpox across the United States.
How does it spread?
The mpox virus can spread in several ways, including person-to-person transmission via direct contact with infectious rash, scabs, or bodily fluids (intimate physical contact such as kissing, cuddling, or sex) or via respiratory secretions (face-to-face contact). It can also be transmitted from a pregnant person to their fetus through the placenta, and it is possible to become infected by touching items that an infected individual used (such as bed linens, towels, or clothing). Lastly, animal-to-human transmission is also possible via direct contact with infected meat or bodily fluids, or from being bitten or scratched by an infected animal.
A recent NEJM article found that 95% of transmission among 528 infected individuals occurred through sexual activity; 0.8% were likely due to nonsexual close contact, and just 0.6% were due to household contact.
It’s important to remember that mpox is not nearly as contagious as COVID-19. It does not spread by walking by someone in a grocery store, or via casual conversation with an infected individual. Research also shows that the majority of infections have occurred through sexual activity.
Has the virus shown propensity to mutate?
The mpox virus is a DNA virus, and DNA viruses typically mutate at a much much slower rate than RNA viruses (like SARS-CoV-2). However, sequenced samples from the current (2022) outbreak show 50 alterations when compared to the next closest sequenced sample—a 2018 case in the U.K—which is a higher number of alterations than we would expect.