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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55488. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055488. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Transmissibility of the monkeypox virus clades via respiratory transmission: investigation using the prairie dog-monkeypox virus challenge system.

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  • 1Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, Poxvirus and Rabies Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2014;9(1). doi:10.1371/annotation/18ebd26a-21ef-43ff-b20d-c22f433e5714.


Monkeypox virus (MPXV) is endemic within Africa where it sporadically is reported to cause outbreaks of human disease. In 2003, an outbreak of human MPXV occurred in the US after the importation of infected African rodents. Since the eradication of smallpox (caused by an orthopoxvirus (OPXV) related to MPXV) and cessation of routine smallpox vaccination (with the live OPXV vaccinia), there is an increasing population of people susceptible to OPXV diseases. Previous studies have shown that the prairie dog MPXV model is a functional animal model for the study of systemic human OPXV illness. Studies with this model have demonstrated that infected animals are able to transmit the virus to naive animals through multiple routes of exposure causing subsequent infection, but were not able to prove that infected animals could transmit the virus exclusively via the respiratory route. Herein we used the model system to evaluate the hypothesis that the Congo Basin clade of MPXV is more easily transmitted, via respiratory route, than the West African clade. Using a small number of test animals, we show that transmission of viruses from each of the MPXV clade was minimal via respiratory transmission. However, transmissibility of the Congo Basin clade was slightly greater than West African MXPV clade (16.7% and 0% respectively). Based on these findings, respiratory transmission appears to be less efficient than those of previous studies assessing contact as a mechanism of transmission within the prairie dog MPXV animal model.

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