Most parents know about smallpox and chickenpox, but what is monkeypox? Monkeypox is an infectious virus that appeared in the late 1970s, after smallpox vaccinations began to reduce that virus. People can catch monkeypox by coming into contact with infected animals, including monkeys, rodents, and pets.
Originally, the disease occurred in Africa, but the first U.S. outbreak occurred in 2003. Many doctors believe African prairie dogs, intended for resale as pets, carried the disease to the U.S. An estimated 10 percent of patients with monkeypox will die due to complications from the virus.
While monkeypox is not something doctors want to see, they are aware that some benefit may come from studying patients infected with the virus. Monkeypox can cause lung damage by increasing proteins related to inflammation. It also decreases the proteins protecting lung tissue.
Because the virus actually ruins the structural integrity of the lungs, doctors may have a new path of treatments to try to halt the affects of the virus. The National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease funded the study, which was comprised of biologists and virologists at Oregon Health & Science University and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Monkeypox happens to cause similar complications in monkeys, which means doctors may be able to test new treatment options on monkeys with the condition. Through research, doctors and other health medicine professionals may be able to find new ways to fight outbreaks. One possible method may be using surfactants to lubricate the lungs, which may help the tissues maintain their integrity.
Researchers will also be able to do additional studies by using cell cultures collected during the study. With the newest data on monkeypox and a deeper understanding of the infectious virus and its effects on lungs, researchers can continue to work on solutions to a variety of health problems related to lung conditions.