The team from Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV), Pune, conducted genetic sequencing of two cases of monkeypox from Kerala.
The data revealed that the virus strain present in the country is A.2, which was recently imported into India from the Middle East. It was previously present in Thailand and the US during the 2021 outbreak. However, the strain that caused the superspreader events in Europe was due to B.1.
“The current continuous human-to-human transmission of monkeypox virus is believed to have occurred through superspreader events in Europe, with 16,000+ cases now spread to 70+ countries. It is largely known as the B.1 lineage of the virus. Depicted and includes the major lineage for the genome in 2022,” tweeted Vinod Scaria, scientist at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB).
He noted that A.2 is in contrast to most genomes worldwide that belong to the B.1 lineage; and the A.2 cluster, seen in India, is “not an indicator of a superspreader phenomenon”.
“This would mean” that the cases in the country are “probably not linked to European superspreader events”, Scaria wrote.
“We may be seeing a distinct cluster of human-human transmission and possibly going unrecognized for years. The earliest sample in the cluster from the US is actually from 2021, suggesting that the virus has been in circulation for quite some time, and events before European,” he said.
He suggested increasing genomic surveillance in the country as more cases emerge and possibly sequence every single case.
“Public health measures and communication have to take these new insights into account. Wider testing and awareness could uncover many more cases,” Scaria said.
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