Smallpox has spread around the world, with cases now reported in Australia, Canada, Spain and elsewhere. About 20 infections have been confirmed in the UK.
The UK Health Agency (UKHSA) has said it is currently investigating links between British patients, most of whom are believed to have contracted the disease in London, although the virus is spread mainly by wildlife in West Africa and not all. of those who fell ill had recently traveled.
Generally, a mild, self-limiting disease that does not spread easily, the risk to the general population is low, the UKHSA said.
British health professionals are now offering smallpox vaccines as a means of protection. There is currently no specific vaccine against monkeypox.
But authorities are advising the public – especially gays and bisexuals, given that all four patients on Monday were homosexuals, educating the possibility of sexual transmission – be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of the body, especially on the genitals.
So what is monkeypox and what danger does it pose to the population?
Where did monkeypox come from?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has traced the disease to tropical rainforests in Central and West Africa and identifies it as a viral zoonotic (meaning it can be transmitted from animal to human) disease, similar to smallpox, which itself eradicated in 1980.
The first reported case of monkeypox has been detected in the area to date 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 rodents such as wood squirrels and gambian rats), it is an infectious disease, so it can often be transmitted from other people.
What are the symptoms?
The disease has an incubation period of 6 to 16 days. At the opening stage, Patients first develop fever, headache, edema, back pain, muscle aches and general lethargy..
As soon as the fever passes, the patient’s body is faced with a rash on the skin, in which the rash spreads throughout the face and then on the rest of the body, most often on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Spots turn from damage into bubbles, which then heal and disappear.
The virus can be difficult to diagnose without the help of laboratory analysis because of its superficial similarity to other diseases that lead to 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”.
Although this chain of orthopoxviruses is much milder than smallpox, fatalities have been reported, especially among young people. The WHO lists a mortality rate of less than 10 percent.
У NigeriaThe 2017 outbreak in 2017, the largest ever observed, revealed 172 suspected cases of monkeypox and 61 confirmed cases nationwide. Seventy-five percent of the victims were men between the ages of 21 and 40.
There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment, but pre-existing smallpox has proven to be 85 percent effective in fighting the disease.
Professor Jimmy Whitworth of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stressed that while monkeypox is “usually mild … it is a reasonable precaution to keep track of those people who may have been in contact with these recent cases.”
How many cases have been detected in the UK?
The UK is one of several countries outside Africa where monkeypox has been found.
The first four infections reported in the UK in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, there was a second outbreak when three family members were diagnosed with the virus after a trip to Nigeria.
In the UK, the number of cases detected in May ranges from seven to 16.
During the last outbreak, 20 cases were confirmed.