Smallpox of monkeys spread worldwide, now reported cases in the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
In Britain, the total number of confirmed infections is there has now reached 20.
The UK Health Agency (UKHSA) is currently investigating possible links between infected British patients and noted that on Monday, May 16, four were diagnosed together, all gay or bisexual men, warning that it could indicate the presence of the virus. sexually transmitted among this community.
Mateo Prahazko, an epidemiologist-infectious disease specialist at UKHSA who heads the agency’s investigation, said the general circumstance “is very indicative of a proliferation in sexual networks”.
Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s chief medical adviser, said: “We especially urge gay and bisexual men to be aware of any unusual rash or lesions and to contact the sexual health service immediately.”
British health workers are offered smallpox vaccines as a means of protection. A specific monkey smallpox vaccine does not currently exist, but the smallpox variant is believed to be 85 percent effective.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly convening a group of experts to hold a meeting on the growing crisis.
So what is monkeypox and what danger does it pose to the population?
Where did monkeypox come from?
The WHO has tracked the disease in the rainforests of Central and West Africa and identifies it as a viral zoonotic disease – meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans – with the first case recorded in modern times. Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.
Although it was originally transmitted to humans through contact with the blood or body fluids of infected primates, or through intermediate rodents such as wood squirrels and Gambian rats, it is much more likely to be caught from other humans.
During the 2017 outbreak that occurred in Nigeria172 suspected cases of smallpox monkeys, the largest to date, have been identified and 61 confirmed cases nationwide.
What are the symptoms?
Relatively mild viral infection, the disease has an incubation period of 6 to 16 days, and patients first suffer from fever, headaches, edema, back pain, muscle aches and general lethargy in the early stages.
After this passes and the fever disappears, the patient will have a rash on the skin, in which the rash spreads to the face and then to the rest of the body, most often on the palms of the hands and soles.
Spots turn from damage into bubbles, which then heal and disappear.
According to the CDC: “The main difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) and smallpox does not.”
The virus can be difficult to diagnose without the help of laboratory analysis because of its superficial similarity to other diseases that cause rashes such as chickenpox, measles, scabies and syphilis.
How dangerous is it?
Dr Colin Brown, director of clinical and new infections at UKHSA, said monkeypox “is not easily spread among humans and the overall risk to the general public is very low”.
Professor Jimmy Whitworth of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine agreed with this assessment, but stressed that although monkeypox is “usually mild … it is a reasonable precaution to keep track of and track down people who may have been in contact with these recent cases.” ».
Fatalities have been reported, especially among young people, although the WHO estimates mortality from the disease only one in ten.
Dr Michael Head, a senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton, admits that “there are gaps in our knowledge now”, but added that it would be very unusual to see anything more than a few cases in any outbreaks “and stressed that” we will not see Covid-style transmission levels. “
How many cases have been detected in the UK?
The UK is on a list of countries growing outside of Africa where monkeypox is now detected, and there are currently 20 confirmed cases.
Interestingly, only one of the recently infected people in the UK is known to have traveled to a country where monkeypox is endemic – Nigeria, according to UKHSA.
The man, who fell ill in Massachusetts, also recently spent time in the same country, as did two people diagnosed in Texas and Maryland last year and travelers who brought the first cases to the UK in 2018.