Can you get re-infected with monkeypox?

The United States reported more cases of monkeypox than any other country in the world. As people recover from their infection, they will naturally want to avoid repeated infections and repeat episodes of the infection. pain and fear related to disease.

The good news is that experts believe you are unlikely to be re-infected with monkeypox after you have been infected or vaccinated.

Based on what scientists know about other orthopox infections – such as smallpox, a close cousin of monkeypox – immunity to the disease should last a lifetime. . In studies of smallpox survivors, researchers have noted that immune cells that help coordinate the body’s ability to fight the virus and destroy infected cells remain intact. can be found in people’s blood. 83 years after their initial smallpox infection. Similar, antibody capable of inactivating the smallpox virus that seems to persist for decades after infection.

That’s the case with most viral diseases, according to Paula Cannon, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Viruses that tend to mutate slowly – such as measles, mumps or the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis – also elicit strong immune responses. As a result, immunity after infection tends to last a lifetime. Your body learns to recognize the virus and remembers how to fight it in the event of a future encounter.

Upper respiratory tract diseases such as flu, common cold and Covid are notable exceptions. The viruses that cause these diseases adapt quickly, with mutations that make them dramatically different from what the body might have coped with in the past – as we’ve all learned with Omicron variant of Covid. These nasty pathogens also stay and infect through your nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract, where the body usually doesn’t see invaders as a big threat.

Dr Cannon said that smallpox infection in monkeys is most likely to produce an immune response more similar to that of smallpox than to Covid. “I also look forward to that long-term or lifelong,” she said.

As with the original smallpox vaccine, the current Jynneos injections authorized for monkeypox are also based on a related virus called attenuated vaccine virus. , said Dr. Cannon. “So you basically have an infection that’s asymptomatic or incomplete, which will give you a pretty high and complex level of immunity.”

Some epidemiological data from vaccination against smallpox virus suggest that vaccination provides reliable protection for at least five years, with some degrees of immunity lasting 10 years or more. When the researchers looked at the antibodies after vaccination, they found that still comparable for people who have recovered from smallpox even after several decades.

But when it comes to monkeypox, there’s very little real-world data, as it’s a new viral infection in countries that don’t have an epidemic. David Cennimo, an infectious disease specialist at Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine, said there is still a chance that in six months we will start hearing about rare cases of reinfection.

Dr. Cennimo adds that your immune memory can decline for several years after vaccination or infection. Researchers have observed this after some vaccines, which is why you need a booster shot of shingles, a disease caused by the same virus that caused you to get chickenpox. Your immune system can also be weakened by taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, or being treated for autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. Another infection like HIV or the flu can temporarily weaken your immune system. Smoking, drinking alcohol, or poor nutrition can also suppress your immune responses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long recommended that people get a booster dose for smallpox or monkeypox. every two or 10 years if they continue to be at risk of infection. Previously, this guidance only applied to laboratory staff and healthcare professionals who worked closely with the virus. What happens next, however, will depend on the trajectory of the current outbreak, Dr. Cennimo said. “I cannot predict whether we will tell patients who are receiving the monkeypox vaccine that in three years they will need a booster shot of monkeypox,” he said. “Certainly, if we don’t control this transmission now, and it becomes a circulating infection, then that could be the case.”

To date, there is no evidence of smallpox reinfection in monkeys, Dr. Cennimo said. And if the case counts keep falling and monkeypox cease to be widespread, there is hope that booster doses will not be needed. Immunity from primary vaccinations or infections will continue to protect people in the long run.

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