WHO warns monkey smallpox spreads from humans to animals

In fact, viruses can cross the boundaries between species and spread infection from person to animal or vice versa.

This raises fears they will mutate in a more dangerous direction.

Dr Lewis said there had been no reports of monkey smallpox mutating in a dangerous direction so far.

However, she said if the virus moves to a different environment in a different population, it is certainly likely to grow and mutate abnormally.

“The worse-case scenario is that a virus could move into small mammal populations at high densities.

It infects a lot of individuals and will evolve,” said Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency director.

However, he also said the community doesn’t need to worry too much about monkey smallpox mutating when infecting domestic pets.

“I don’t think the virus will evolve in dogs any faster than in humans. We need to be vigilant, but pets are not a huge risk,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urges people infected with monkeypox to limit contact with animals to avoid transmission of the virus.