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Murder hornets have fallen into obscurity and COVID is in the rear-view mirror so, of course, what the world needs now is … Monkeypox.

14 countries, including the United States, have reported infections of the usually rare disease and Belgium has now instituted a 21-day mandatory quarantine for anyone carrying the virus.

Monkeypox is typically contracted after handling monkeys, but now experts are seeing community (person-to-person) spread among a very specific demographic: urban men who have sex with other men.

“The community transmission is largely centered in urban areas and we are predominantly seeing it in individuals who self-identify as gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, a chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency. “It’s already circulating in the general population.”

“‘It could be really significant numbers over the next two or three weeks,” she added.

Monkeypox is fatal to about 1% of those that contract the disease and, before this recent outbreak, was found mainly in those that had visited west or central Africa.

This, along with recent unexplained hepatitis infections in children, has experts struggling to explain where public health threats are coming from and how they are spreading.

Some scientists believe that monkeypox is evolving to fill the void left by the near-eradication of smallpox. As smallpox vaccinations are curtailed, the monkeypox virus is more easily spread. Monkeypox and smallpox are similar and it is believed that the smallpox vaccine gives some immunity against the monkey-related version.

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