Vitor Borges, Mariana Perez Duque, Joao Vieira Martins
Nature Medicine, vol. , 1--9, 2023
Pathogen genome sequencing during epidemics enhances our ability to identify and understand suspected clusters and investigate their relationships. Here, we combine genomic and epidemiological data of the 2022 mpox outbreak to better understand early viral spread, diversification and transmission dynamics. By sequencing 52\% of the confirmed cases in Portugal, we identified the mpox virus sublineages with the highest impact on case numbers and fitted them into a global context, finding evidence that several international sublineages probably emerged or spread early in Portugal. We estimated a 62\% infection reporting rate and that 1.3\% of the population of men who have sex with men in Portugal were infected. We infer the critical role played by sexual networks and superspreader gatherings, such as sauna attendance, in the dissemination of mpox virus. Overall, our findings highlight genomic epidemiology as a tool for the real-time monitoring and control of mpox epidemics, and can guide future vaccine policy in a highly susceptible population.