Monkeypox, severe hepatitis raise concerns about post-COVID virus outbreaks

As the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, experts warn that emerging viruses are inevitable in the coming years and that better surveillance is needed to stay ahead of potential new pathogens.

The recent appearance of monkeypox has led researchers to shuffle to find out how the rare infectious virus is spreading to countries, including Canada, that do not normally see it.

Meanwhile, cases of severe acute hepatitis in children have also raised concerns in several countries.

Read more: WHO warns that outbreaks of diseases such as monkeypox are more common

“Emerging infectious diseases can always affect us,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s director of public health.

“And we should be as prepared as we can be, which means strengthening global public health capacity,” he told a news conference on Friday.

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Climate change and increased interaction between humans and wildlife are factors that contribute to the emergence of viruses, which are “largely man-made,” experts say.

This is why outbreaks of endemic diseases are becoming more persistent and frequent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

0:53 58 cases of smallpox in Canada have been confirmed, Tam says 58 cases of smallpox in Canada have been confirmed, says Tam

Animals and humans are changing their behavior, including food-seeking habits to adapt to rapidly changing weather conditions linked to climate change, said Mike Ryan, WHO’s director of emergencies, during a press conference on Wednesday.

As a result, diseases that normally circulate in animals are increasingly jumping on humans, he said.

“Unfortunately, this ability to amplify this disease and spread it to our communities is increasing, so that both the onset of the disease and the factors amplifying the disease have increased.”

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Read more: Climate change may increase risk of spreading new infectious diseases between species: study

Warmer air and water make it easier for viruses and bacteria to thrive and multiply, said Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious disease expert at the University of British Columbia.

This is a “tumultuous situation” that has been brought to the fore by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at McGill University Health Center (MUHC).

“We are in a fragile balance with our environment,” Vinh told Global News. “And unfortunately, if we don’t respect our environment, the environment will present us with mistakes for which we are not prepared.”

5:23 Mysterious Hepatitis Cases in Reported Children in Canada Mysterious Hepatitis Cases in Reported Children in Canada – May 11, 2022

Is there a link to COVID?

A global population exhausted after two years of COVID-19 has had to deal with the news of the arrival of the monkey’s smallpox, although experts do not believe that the latest outbreak will turn into another pandemic .

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Although both are infectious diseases, Bach said smallpox spread is unrelated to global COVID-19 transmission.

Read more: Monkeypox Outbreak: Canada now has 77 confirmed cases

“It’s a completely different virus, so it doesn’t belong to the (same) family (like COVID),” he said.

Experts call the monkey’s smallpox, which is endemic in at least 10 African countries, a “neglected disease” because not enough research has been done and no drugs have been developed to treat it.

2:47 COVID-19 indicators are down in most parts of the country COVID-19 indicators are down in most parts of the country

While research is ongoing, “the sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that undetected transmission may have occurred for an unknown length of time followed by recent amplifier events. “The WHO said in an update on Saturday.

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Regarding severe acute hepatitis in children, some studies have pointed to a possible link with COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that adenovirus infection, a common childhood virus, is the main hypothesis in recent cases.

Both SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and adenovirus have been detected in several cases.

However, the exact role of these viruses in causing severe hepatitis is still unclear, according to the WHO.

1:49 Monkeypox stigma poses challenges in Canadian case follow-up Monkeypox stigma poses challenges in Canadian case follow-up – May 26, 2022

Meanwhile, COVID-19 restrictions and strict blockages have led to a change in infection cycles for other viruses such as influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), said Dr. Anna Banerji, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Toronto. .

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This is because babies and toddlers have not been exposed to routine childhood illnesses, such as the cold virus, or through the mother in the womb or their older siblings.

“Many of the viruses have changed their seasons, but some of the viruses are also more serious because babies have not been exposed to them through their maternal antibodies,” Banerji told Global News.

Global response and surveillance

To better respond to future outbreaks, experts say better surveillance, global collaboration and health capacity building are needed.

“Training each country at a reasonable level is really important,” Tam said, adding that there are “definitely gaps.”

Read more: 48 cases of norovirus, gastrointestinal diseases related to prawns located across Canada: PHAC

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Vinh agreed, saying the global response should be equitable and come soon before the outbreak grows and spreads to different parts of the world.

“We need to be actively researching and looking for potential new pathogens to come so that when they appear and become a problem, we already have solutions on hand,” he said.

“It’s not when the infection is spreading in your community that you start studying the bug, it’s much earlier.”

1:24 Monkeypox mortality rate unclear due to lack of surveillance in some countries: WHO monkeypox mortality rate unclear due to lack of surveillance in some countries : WHO

– With files from Reuters, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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