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Monkeypox, severe hepatitis raise concerns of virus outbreaks post-COVID

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, experts warn that emerging viruses are inevitable in the years to come and better surveillance is needed to stay ahead of potential new pathogens.

The recent appearance of monkeypox has left researchers scrambling to find out how the rare infectious virus is spreading in countries, including Canada, that don’t typically see it.

Meanwhile, cases of severe acute hepatitis in children have also raised concerns in several countries.

Read more: Outbreaks of diseases like monkeypox becoming more frequent, WHO warns

“Emerging infectious disease can always hit us,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

“And we should be as prepared as we can, which means reinforcing the global public health capacity,” she said during a news conference on Friday.

Climate change and the increased human-to-wildlife interaction are contributing factors when it comes to the emergence of viruses, which are “largely human-made,” experts say.

This is why outbreaks of endemic diseases are becoming more persistent and frequent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Animals and humans are changing their behavior, including food-seeking habits to adjust to rapidly changing weather conditions linked to climate change, said Mike Ryan, WHO’s emergencies director, during a news conference on Wednesday.

As a result, diseases that typically circulate in animals are increasingly jumping into humans, he said.

“Unfortunately, that ability to amplify that disease and move it on within our communities is increasing, so both disease emergence and disease amplification factors have increased.”

Read more: Climate change may heighten risk of new infectious disease

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Mike Ryan Theresa Tam


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