China faces risk of imported monkeypox, alert and monitoring needed: medical experts
Published: Aug 08, 2022 01:54 PM
The monkeypox virus Photo:VCG

The monkeypox virus Photo:VCG

China faces risk of imported monkeypox epidemic as the virus is rapidly spreading in the world, Chinese experts warned, noting that the country should maintain high vigilance, strict monitoring and timely alert signals to prevent the zoonotic infectious disease. 

Gao Fu, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Zhang Wenhong, head of the infectious disease department at Huashan Hospital, among other experts, made the warning at a forum of monkeypox virus research and response on Sunday, reported Yicai.  

China needs to prepare for the potential import of monkeypox into the country, which is highly likely to happen sometime in the future when the country opens its border, said Gao. 

He suggested that authorities should keep high vigilance, conduct strict surveillance, and issue timely warning signs to help researchers to develop countermeasures against monkeypox virus.

Gao called for investment in vaccines, especially the research and development of mRNA vaccine technology. "The effects of attenuated vaccines on the human immune system are not well understood. It would be better to develop an mRNA or protein-based vaccine," he said.

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern on July 23. Reuters reported that 80 countries where the virus is not endemic have reported 26,500 cases of monkeypox. 

Although the WHO considers the risk of monkeypox in China to be low to medium and no cases of monkeypox infection have been found in the Chinese mainland so far, Chinese experts noted that vigilance is still needed to guard against a prevalence of the disease in China.

The Chinese authorities are aware that the outbreak of monkeypox is different from previous sporadic outbreaks, and the risk of imported cases increases with the virus spreading worldwide, said Zhang. 

"The type of a disease changes greatly every time after its virus completes a jump across species, so close monitoring and research of the virus is needed to get a better understanding of the transmissibility and pathogenicity of it," he said.

The top epidemiologist said that in the past transmission of monkeypox virus, the human-to-human transmission was relatively weak and rarely occurred from third or even fourth generation. But in the current outbreak, the third and fourth generation of transmission began to accelerate. 

The US declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Wednesday. Over 7,000 Monkeypox cases have been reported in the country as of Sunday, reported CBS News. 

China's health authorities issued monkeypox diagnosis and treatment guidelines in June

Chinese customs authorities said in May that they will enhance their monitoring of the risk of monkeypox being imported into China. The practices will include checking the health of inbound personnel, as well as the quarantine of goods and rodents carried into the country.