By Alex P. Vidal
“The mystery of that damn virus has been generated by the $2 billion a year they spend on it.”—Kary Mullis
HARDLY had the humanity recovered from the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, we are again being vexed by a mysterious virus called monkeypox.
Is humanity being held hostage by a greedy corporate cabal masquerading as health authorities with power to spread fear and panic about certain viruses or diseases?
The timing of the monkeypox’s sudden arrival when people appeared to be not anymore fearful of the coronavirus sub-variants, may have been only a coincidence, but no one can blame the Doubting Thomases if they hastily reacted with utmost pessimism and a suspicious mind.
Is the monkeypox a monkey business?
Will governments all over the world be asked anew to require their citizens to have another round of vaccinations to ward off this rare virus?
The coffers of both the rich and poor countries have been emptied for the purchase of billions of dollars worth of vaccines to combat the coronavirus since 2020.
Many countries, including the Philippines, are already down on all four from foreign debts as a result of international calamity wrought by coronavirus.
It’s puzzling why all of a sudden the whole world is being warned anew of another strange virus even before the coronavirus sub-variants have bade farewell.
Let’s hope this is not going to be another epidemic that will blossom into a pandemic and again make our life difficult. We pray not.
Monkeypox may be a rare disease caused by infection with monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.
Monkeypox was actually first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox,’ explained the CDC.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.
Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone.
The majority of infections are in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Monkeypox cases in people have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals, including cases in the United States, as well as Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
The natural reservoir of monkeypox remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) may harbor the virus and infect people.
We have our first reported first case of monkeypox in New York City even as Mayor Eric Adams said May 21 that he’s not worried about the virus’ spread in the Big Apple – where at least one case of the rare disease is already suspected.
“Nope. We have the best Department of Health,” Adams told The New York Post after being asked about the disease following an unrelated Midtown event. “We are going to make the right decisions for the city.”
The city’s Health Department has confirmed that a city patient tested positive for a family of viruses that monkeypox belongs to, but it was still unclear Saturday whether the person was infected with the rare disease.
Two patients had been under investigation by the city’s Health Department for possibly carrying the virus. One case was ruled out while another person tested positive for “Orthopoxvirus,” the family of viruses to which monkeypox belongs.
The patient remained in isolation Saturday awaiting testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local health officials are carrying out contact tracing in the meantime.
According to CNN, the CDC was investigating at least five other cases of possible monkeypox involving American patients.
Monkeypox cases in the U.S. are reportedly very rare. It does not occur naturally in the United States, but cases have happened that were associated with international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease is more common, said the CDC scientists.
As of this writing, it was reported that CDC scientists were collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to investigate a situation in which a U.S. resident tested positive for monkeypox on May 18 after returning to the U.S. from Canada.
It was reported that CDC was also tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported in early- to mid-May in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including in Europe and North America.
It’s not clear how people in those clusters were exposed to monkeypox but cases include people who self-identify as men who have sex with men.
CDC has urged healthcare providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)