Dr. Karen Mossman is a virologist and professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University. The bright side of a possible outbreak of monkeypox, also known as monkeypox, she says, is applying the lessons we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
” We hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will normalize the wearing of masks, new working methods and better ventilation systems, for example. »
Many practices put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic will help limit monkeypox infection, she wrote in an email to CBC.
But Dr Mossman warns that the concern over increases in monkeypox cases is warranted.
In addition to the nine confirmed cases of the virus in Ontario, at least 23 cases were under investigation in Toronto as of June 9.
Although the smallpox vaccine is thought to provide protection, vaccination against smallpox ended around 1970, when the virus was effectively eradicated, she says. Vaccinated persons therefore probably have limited residual immunity.
Fortunately, the virologist explains that monkeypox does not spread as quickly as SARS-COV-2, and does not mutate as quickly as coronaviruses.
Monkeypox is transmitted through bites or scratches from an infected animal, or through direct contact with wounds or bodily fluids from infected people. We can think of sexual intercourse for example, explains Dr. Mossman.
Doctors need to communicate better with the public
The professor of pathology and molecular medicine also believes that there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic in connection with communication between doctors and the general public.
There must be a balance between transparency and awareness. The public has the right to be informed of viruses circulating that have the potential to form a new epidemic, she observes.
” Often, information around new viruses changes over time. That’s what happened with COVID-19. Experts made assumptions about our previous experiences. »
Dr. Mossman says, however, that communicating with the public around new viruses can become complicated, as information changes as experts gather data.
But regardless, the virologist believes that the general public must have more information to assess the risks of a possible epidemic.
By telling the public to trust us because we are doctors, we are not really doing our job of giving explanations of decisions or recommendations around new viruses, she explains.
A virus different from COVID-19
According to Niagara Region Deputy Medical Officer of Health Dr. Azim Kasmani, however, a pandemic is unlikely to stem from the current monkeypox outbreak.
Based on what we know about monkeypox now, it’s unlikely to have the same global impact as COVID-19, he observes.
” They are different viruses, with different means of spread and different health effects. »
For now, Dr Kasmani suggests avoiding close, physical contact with people who may be infected with monkeypox.
And like Dr. Karen Mossman, Dr. Kasmani believes that while people should be wary of this virus, we are now better prepared for outbreaks thanks to the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With information from CBC News