Scientists said the latest strain of monkeypox, once previously confined to parts of Africa, has about 50 genetic variations compared to related viruses that circulated in 2018-2019. They found the virus is continuing to evolve during the current outbreak, including a number of small changes in the genetic code, minor gene variants and a deleted gene, according to a study published in Nature Medicine on Friday.
The new data provide additional evidence of ongoing viral evolution and its possible human adaptation, said Joao Paulo Gomes from the National Institute of Health in Lisbon and one of the authors of the report.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of monkeypox cases rose to over 3,200 globally. To date, clinical results of cases associated with this outbreak are variable.
The WHO stressed this new virus can be transmitted by person-to-person contact, breath droplets and contaminated bedding.