When you’ve had an epidemic for more than two years, it can be strange to see “disease” and “good news” in the same sentence. But here we are seeing cautious optimism as the disease slows down. Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization announced a rapid decline in cases of monkeypox in Europe. The epidemic can be eliminated there. And the US recently experienced The first monkey disease deathHere are the issues It fell by 40 percent Between the middle and end of August. In other words, he is. Too early to declare victory And dust off our hands, but the situation is improving in general.

This news shows that public health officials – and the public itself – have found some important tools to fight this serious disease. But the monkey disease is a reminder that humans face many potentially dangerous new diseases. Covid was neither the first nor the last. It is as much human intervention as luck that prevents most diseases from becoming epidemics.

This spring, many of us braced ourselves for the worst. Monkey disease seems mysterious, and Issues were mounting.. But the positive result does not surprise the scientists who study the disease. “One of the challenges I’ve had in public relations is trying to get people to understand that the sky can fall with monkeypox, any of us who work in public health,” said Jay Verma, a professor of public health sciences. “We were concerned that a lot of people were going to suffer for no reason … because we had a diagnostic test, we found a drug to treat it and a vaccine to prevent it all,” said Dr. Monkey disease, in other words, was a serious disease that needed attention to ensure vulnerable groups were protected, but it was unlikely to become a major problem on the same scale as Covid-19.

In August, scientists surveyed more than 800 men who have sex with men in an attempt to find out how the virus — and the education campaigns surrounding it — have affected their lives. according to Results published by the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAbout half of the men made some significant change in their behavior. Of the 824 people surveyed, 48 percent said they had reduced their total number of sexual partners, 50 percent said they had cut back on one-time sex, and 50 percent said they had cut back on sex with people they met on dating apps and sex clubs. Varma and Rodney Rohde, professor of clinical laboratory science at Texas State University, said those voluntary behavior changes and the public health campaigns that inspired them were especially important in curbing monkeypox.

It’s because. Other studies show One night stands account for only a fraction of the daily sex between men who have sex with men — 3 percent of daily sex — and those relationships account for about half of the daily transmission of STD.

Vaccination campaigns were also important, but behavioral changes seemed to be more prevalent in high-risk communities than vaccination, Varma said. “The CDC’s first guidelines are clear and concise about what behaviors put people at high risk and what behaviors can reduce the risks without questioning that sex is a vital activity.” ” he said.

But if monkeypox had happened a few years ago, it might not have been on anyone’s radar outside of the communities most affected. Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a professor of genetic medicine at Johns Hopkins University who worked at the CDC for 20 years, recalls that the agency’s former director often said that when public health was doing its job well, we never heard about it.

According to Rasmussen and other experts I spoke with, new diseases are constantly emerging and entering the United States. But SARS-CoV-2 aside, most of them have been shut down quickly and efficiently by public health. “Remember the MERS outbreak when there were two cases in the US?” she asked. During the month of May 2014 When a A particularly deadly cousin of Covid He was deployed in Indiana and Florida in unrelated cases. “People say, ‘I don’t even remember that.’ And… because we experienced it.”

We are more likely to hear about these diseases now because after a few years of covid everyone is more educated to pay attention. The reality is that thousands of people nationwide are working to ensure that these diseases don’t spread unnoticed, that high-risk populations are treated, and that we don’t continue to wallow in preventable epidemics. The good news is.

Bad news: Not every outbreak is preventable. “We got a little lucky. [with monkeypox]” said Rohde. Yes, it is painful and there is some risk of death, but if this disease is nipped and nipped in the bud, this is partly because the virus makes it easier to nip itself out. It’s not a respiratory virus that people at bus stops easily spread to strangers. Mode of transmission, primarily through sex, limits who can be transmitted to whom. He said the rate of spread is different from Covid. And the mode of transmission means the virus primarily affects high-risk groups rather than society as a whole, so it’s easier to modify behavior and administer pharmaceutical treatments. Monkey disease is a DNA virus, not an RNA virus like SARS-CoV-2, so it mutates less than Covid and can be prevented by older, existing vaccines. Those are the plagues that people can stop from turning into plagues. Of course, both scientists and the public must act when it emerges, but it is relatively easy to manage.

Most new or new-to-us diseases have more in common with monkeypox than with Covid. They will be accommodated. And you’ll forget you ever saw them on the news. But, eventually, another pathogen comes along that’s just as challenging by nature—another fast-spreading, fast-changing respiratory virus that hits everyone at once. It reminds me that when we come out of covid we should say ‘this is our epidemic’. We don’t need funding. [public health infrastructure] No more,’” Rasmussen said.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest takeaways from this monkeypox epidemic and how it was treated is a paradox. You don’t have to assume that every new disease you hear about is going to be another out-of-control outbreak, so you can let go of the stress. But, at the same time, that doesn’t mean another outbreak won’t happen in a lifetime. One must be busy paying attention.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, if you’re tired, if you’re done,” Rohde said. “Those [infectious diseases] don’t care. They never get tired.”

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