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UAMS researchers find explanation for rapid spread of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is not generally fatal, but researchers in Arkansas are now looking at a similar, more deadly disease to try and get ahead of the outbreak.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Monkeypox has continued to spread across the world, and there was even a confirmed case of Monkeypox in an Arkansas school recently.

In order to help scientists better understand why the virus has spread so quickly, experts have been doing research right here in Arkansas. 

There are more than 25 thousand confirmed cases of Monkeypox in the United States— 61 of those in our state.

Throughout the previous years of Monkeypox outbreaks, the disease stayed localized to one area This year, the virus spread from Africa, then Europe, then across the world. 

UAMS researchers have discovered that the virus has been mutating and they've mapped out those mutations to show what's different from the previous outbreaks. 

This could explain how it has spread so far and so fast.

"Identifying those mutations is the first step, and then what those mutations do is now the next step," said David Ussery, the lead researcher on the study.

Monkeypox is not generally fatal, but Ussery has looked at a similar, more deadly disease to try and get ahead of this outbreak.

"When you put it into the context of smallpox... from a genomic point of view, it's essentially the same thing well now that's scary," explained Ussery.

Smallpox was eradicated after the introduction of the vaccine.

Since the two viruses are so similar, now that monkeypox has been mutating, Ussery explained that it could become more deadly.

So far, the U.S. has had one death from the virus in California. The person was immunocompromised and was in the hospital for monkeypox.

UAMS will soon begin to look at samples collected from Monkeypox cases here in Arkansas to add to their research.

Ussery stated that vaccines are the best way to combat viruses like this.

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