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Monkeypox: The Epidemic We Did Not Discuss Enough


Despite nearly 89,000 people contracting mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, in the last wave, awareness of the disease remains alarmingly low among healthcare professionals (HCPs). Acceptance of the mpox vaccine also shows significant variation, with Romania displaying the lowest acceptance at 29% and China leading at 90%. These findings form part of a recent review co-authored by Abanoub Riad of the SYRI National Institute, which analysed numerous studies on HCPs' knowledge of mpox and their attitudes towards its vaccine globally.

"Despite the critical role of HCPs in managing epidemics, our previous study in the Czech Republic revealed that a mere 8.8% of healthcare workers agreed to receive the mpox vaccination. This was coupled with a reliance on digital news portals and social media for information, rather than scientific journals or credible health organisations. This underscores the urgent need for targeted educational interventions to correct misconceptions and improve understanding of the disease," said Abanoub Riad.

The mpox disease was virtually only prevalent in a few African countries until early last year. By spring, it had spread to Europe and other countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 88,600 cases of mpox have been recorded worldwide, with 152 deaths reported in 113 countries.

"The ongoing mpox epidemic has generated global interest. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, people are becoming more aware of emerging and re-emerging diseases. However, the vast amount of information available and its accessibility exposes the population to false and unscientific ideas and conspiracy theories. Our study showed that the level of knowledge and awareness is unsatisfactory even among HCPs," said Riad, adding that the only exception is the situation in China.

The country from where COVID-19 spread around the world shows high vaccination rates even for mpox. The researchers recommend further increasing knowledge levels and combating the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy by targeting categories of the population with the lowest levels of knowledge. According to Riad, other factors that may be behind the hesitancy, such as religiosity and disease endemicity, will need to be investigated in the future.

In the Czech Republic, 71 cases of the disease were reported last year, and the Ministry of Health recently announced that it considers the mpox epidemic to be waning in Europe and other countries outside its original occurrence. People in the Czech Republic can be vaccinated against the disease, and about two dozen people have taken advantage of this option so far.

Photo: Pixabay





Abanoub Riad Ph.D.

Position: Junior researcher
+420 549 496 572