Monkeypox, of which several cases have been detected in Europe and North America, is a rare disease originating in Africa, which usually heals spontaneously.
What is this disease?
Monkeypox or “simian orthopoxvirus” is a rare disease whose pathogen can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa.
When the virus reaches humans, it comes mainly from various wild animals, rodents or primates, for example. Transmission from person to person is limited, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Its symptoms are similar, to a lesser extent, to those observed in the past in subjects affected by smallpox: fever, headaches, muscle pain, back pain, during the first five days. Rashes (on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet), lesions, pustules, and finally scabs then appear.
It was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in a 9-year-old boy living in an area where smallpox had been eliminated since 1968.
Since 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been reported in 10 African countries.
In the spring of 2003, cases were also confirmed in the United States, marking the first occurrence of this disease outside of the African continent.
Listen to Benoît Dutrizac’s interview with Dr. Réjean Thomas on QUB Radio:
How is it transmitted?
Infection in early cases results from direct contact with blood, body fluids, or lesions on the skin or mucous membranes of infected animals.
Secondary transmission, that is, from person to person, can result from close contact with infected secretions from the respiratory tract, skin lesions of an infected person, or objects recently contaminated with body fluids or materials from a patient’s lesions.
On Monday, the WHO said it was very interested that some of the cases in the UK appear to have been transmitted within the gay community.
“It is probably too early to draw conclusions about the mode of transmission or assume that sexual activity was necessary for transmission,” warned Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, of the Science media center (SMC).
How serious is it?
Monkeypox usually clears up on its own, with symptoms lasting 14 to 21 days. Severe cases occur more often in children and are related to the degree of exposure to the virus, the patient’s medical condition, and the severity of complications.
Depending on the epidemics, the case-fatality rate could vary greatly but remained below 10% in all documented cases, mainly in young children.
“The West African strain, from which the UK cases are afflicted, is estimated to have a fatality rate of around 1%. A strain is also found in the Congo region that can be fatal in 10% of cases, but the UK cases do not have this strain,” said Simon Clarke, professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, SMC Australia. .
Is there a treatment? There are no specific treatments or vaccines for monkeypox, but outbreaks can be controlled, says the WHO. On the basis of what happened, antivariolic vaccination has an efficiency of 85% for the prevention of orthopoxviruses, although more vaccines are not available for the great public after the arrival of the manufacturing suite for the global era. smallpox
“The good news is that the smallpox vaccine works against monkeypox; the bad news is that most people under the age of 45 are not vaccinated,” tweeted epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding.