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In a new revelation, the genome sequencing reports of the first two monkeypox cases reported in India suggests that they were infected with A.2 strain of the virus which is different from the one causing the monkeypox outbreak in Europe with B.1 variant, according to an analysis by scientists at CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB).

The reports also suggests that this A.2 variant which has largely been found in the US and Thailand, is not linked to major cluster B.1 which has been found in large parts of Europe, according to news reported by Hindustan Times. 

However, there is no evidence yet that either of the strain is more infectious. 

“Genome sequencing data from two monkeypox patients from Kerala are infected with A.2 variant, which is different from B.1 lineage that is being spread in parts of Europe," said Vinod Scaria, genome sequencing scientist at IGIB as quoted by HT.

He said, “Genome sequences have been deposited for two samples (EPI_ISL_13953610 and EPI_ISL_13953611) along with two re-sequenced genomes from isolates of one of the sample. Both the isolates were from early cases reported from Kerala and both cases have a travel history."

The scientist said that the present sustained human to human transmission of the monkeypox virus is believed to have happened via superspreader events in Europe with over 16,000 cases now spread across more than70 countries. 

He also stated that many genomes across the world are represented as the B.1 lineage of the virus and encompass the predominant lineage for genomes in 2022, however, a very small number of genomes belong to a distinct cluster A.2.

“The earliest sample in the cluster from US is indeed from 2021 suggesting the virus has been in circulation for quite some time, and earlier than the European events," he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Priya Abraham, director, ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune explained that all viruses undergo slow evolution over time and they form different evolutionary branches, hence, no cause of panic or alarm is there.

“It is too early to provide any detail about the two variants of monkeypox infection, that is, A.2 and B.1. The samples that we had submitted from Kerala are falling under A.2 strain. Studying about samples and behavior of mutations will take some time," said Dr Pragya Yadav, a senior scientist at NIV Pune as reported by HT.

Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. It is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks, WHO said.






















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