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ASTMH: Monkeypox Risk Factors Examined

Study of 2003 U.S. outbreak cites lack of smallpox vaccination, close contact with infected pets

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Animal-to-human transmission of the monkeypox virus is more likely to occur in people who have not been vaccinated against smallpox, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Inger Damon, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a case-control study of U.S. residents who were exposed to monkeypox from infected prairie dogs imported as pets from Ghana. Thirty of the subjects had confirmed or probable monkeypox and 28 control subjects had no evidence of infection.

The researchers found that subjects who were not vaccinated against smallpox were five times more likely to develop monkeypox than those who were vaccinated against smallpox. They also found that subjects who developed monkeypox were significantly more likely than controls to have had daily or tactile contact with infected pets, or to have cleaned cages and bedding.

"This study indicates how monkeypox infection might occur and implicates both direct and indirect mechanisms for virus transmission," the authors conclude.

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