Monkeypox could be a much bigger problem than people realise. It could be a much bigger problem than covid19. I first expressed concern on 18 May 2022 when there were only 15 cases in the UK and Spain. I could see there was exponential growth, and that it was much more infectious than the monkeypox variants that have been endemic in Africa. I could not understand why the WHO was not moving back then. I suspected foul play also because the new variant had 50 mutations and a DNA virus will only mutate once every year on average. It turned out that a group of human enzymes called APOBEC3 that usually switch genes in a virus (to muck it up) were to blame for the extra 46 mutations. I forecast that the world and the WHO would not hit the panic button until mid July/August.
Here is what I wrote about the monkeypox on 20 May 2022, but I have to revise a few things as this variant of monkeypox is much more contagious and harder to handle than I initially thought. Here is what I wrote back then.
I was calling for people to #stoptravel on 22 May 2022, and this is when they were going bananas (excuse the pun) starting to travel again, after having been partially locked out from travel with covid19. Affluent people were travelling during the peak of the covid19 pandemic cause money talks.
The upcoming monkeypox pandemic will be the second pandemic we never had to have. I think we have gone too far now to stop a pandemic. I often wonder if the WHO wanted a pandemic to stay relevant and active.
Here are some scary facts and some new considerations.
1. This new western variant of MPX is growing exponentially. I have estimated 20 million cases worldwide by Christmas. 45,000 in Australia. 4,500 in WA. And it is currently doubling every 15 days or so. Even quicker in USA. Last estimate had the USA doubling every 9-10 days.
This is not the usual monkeypox virus in Nigeria where they have 3000 cases a year, and is generally spread to only 3% of contacts, so has an R naught value of much less than one.
Initially monkeypox was confined largely to gay men and it may well start accelerating when it gets into the general community.
2. Another big issue is that the African version of monkeypox spread to only certain animals (for example, rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, non-human primates, and possibly to rats, mice, rabbits, and prairie dogs.), but the new western version of MPX spreads to pets, and you do not have to be bitten by or attacked by the previously named animals for transmission to occur.
“Infected animals can spread Monkeypox virus to people, and it is possible that people who are infected can spread Monkeypox virus to animals through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.”
3. MPX is a DNA virus so can survive without a host for much longer than SARS-CoV2. MPX often survives for months on end, in food and water etc.. The question of sanitizing for monkeypox also has issues too as soapy water and alcohol do not kill MPXV. I will come back to this shortly.
Covid19 was almost exclusively spread by aerosols, but we will have to worry about fomite spread with MPX in a much bigger way.
4. It is believed that the western version of monkeypox is airborne so it can spread via aerosols and droplets, just like covid but probably not as easily. In any case we may need to socially distance and wear masks indoors.
You will not be able to wash masks with MPX and handling masks could be very tricky. You may need a NEW mask every time you go out.
5. MPX has an incubation period of 1-16 days, and the infected person can be infectious for 28 days plus, and in addition the virus could be “alive’ on any surface they touched for months.
6. MPX can be spread by touching skin to an infected person or surface. We may need to wear gloves, and wear clothing so no skin is exposed (For example, closed shoes, etc..). This sounds like a bloody nightmare. We will also need to dispose of the used gloves and if we follow correct procedure we should sanitize them before disposal too.
Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces for monkeypox virus
As mentioned earlier alcohol sanitizer and soapy water do NOT kill MPXV.
A surface needs to be cleaned first before it can be properly sanitized. It is a bit like you need to vacuum before you mop.
One product that does kill MPXV is hypochlorous acid, which is basically a weak solution of chlorine in water. It can be purchased but I am not too sure about its shelf life and if refrigeration is required.
In my next post, I am going to see if I can come up with a easy way for people to make hypochlorous acid at home. You may well find people will buy out stocks of commercial hypochlorous acid, like they did with toilet paper and canned food for covid.
I might even make some hypochlorous acid tomorrow first to make sure it can be made safely at home. I found a place online that sells a product with test kits for pH (acidity) and Chlorine (free Cl atoms), so I just bought one. Sorry, not making any from scratch now. Technically all you need to do is pass a current through a solution of water (say 1 litre) add non-iodinated salt (NaCl), a teaspoon of vinegar (acetic acid CH3COOH). The Anode (negative electrode) will pull Na+ and the cathode will pull Cl– ions. The Na+ ions will combine with OH– to produce NaOH which is caustic soda and is a powerful cleaner you find in soap etc., however, the vinegar neutralizes it somewhat so HOCl can form The Cl– ion will lose an electron to become a Cl free radical dissolved in water, and the OH- will also lose an electron to become OH which then bonds with the Cl to form HOCl. The product is HClO, hypochlorous acid, one of the best disinfectants, kills almost everything, including monkeypox. It turns out that out white cells produce HOCl too as a defence. Vinegar is required to stop the solution from becoming too alkaline, and the salt is required to add chlorine ions to the system. You have to measure the amount of free chlorine and the pH (acidity) of the solution to get the perfect mix or HOCl, or buy someone else’s ingenuity to mass produce the perfect device for you.
Aside. You have probably heard people use water vinegar and salt to clean. That probably has more to do with the NaOH than the HOCl.
Handling food etc. with monkeypox virus
This thread on twitter is one of the best exposes on how we will need to handle food etc with monkeypox virus around. I could summarize it for you but you are best to read it yourself. WARNING: It is a scary read. Htf are we going to get through this?
How serious is MPX?
Before this current NEW western version of monkeypox, there were (still exist) 2 clades (variants) of MPXV. One in Nigeria with a CFR (case fatality rate) of 1% and one in the Congo with a CFR of 10%. In both of these variants children are about 3 times more affected so their CFR is 3% and 30% respectively.
So far with the new MPXV we have had some 27,000 cases and only 9 deaths, but mind you not all of the 27,000 people have recovered as yet. In any case the CFR of the WMPX (W=western) seems to be very low, but this does not help us that much because 13% of all people who have had WMPXV have been hospitalized so far. That number starts to get big when you have 100,000 new cases a day. Hospitals and the medical system will become overwhelmed when the WMPXV pandemic is in full swing.
If monkeypox sores form on the eyes it can lead to blindness.
There is no specific vaccine for the monkeypox virus but the usual smallpox virus seems to work, cause that is how monkeypox came about.
Monkeypox developed in monkeys when they were experimenting with smallpox and the smallpox vaccine on monkeys in Africa. It first emerged in monkeys in 1958 but was transmitted to humans in 1970 when humans ate a monkey with MPXV.
added 11 august 2022
I just found this little gem on how the monkeypox virus spreads from the CDC website.