Monkeypox, what you should know? | In deep

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The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that, so far, more than 1,600 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 39 countries, of which seven correspond to territories where it usually occurs, while the other 32 are new. .

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The entity also reported almost 1,500 suspected cases and at least 72 deaths in the previously affected countries.

Some of the countries outside the African continent where monkeypox cases have been reported are Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Thailand, among others.

To discuss the expansion of this virus outbreak in the world, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, convened an Emergency Committee for June 23, in which it will be evaluated if it corresponds to a health emergency. international public interest.

The director general assured that the WHO is working with the representatives of the member states to “develop a mechanism for fair access to vaccines and treatments.”



A disease nothing new

In a questionnaire shared by the United Nations Organization (UN), citing the WHO, they clarified several of the doubts that this disease has generated in the population.

Monkeypox is caused by a virus and is so named because it was detected in several monkeys in a laboratory in 1958. “It is a zoonotic viral disease, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It can also spread from person to person.

This disease is rare, since it can mainly occur in the tropical forests of central and western Africa (endemic), where animals that are considered carriers of the virus are found, such as the Gambian giant rats, dormouse or the dogs of the grasslands.



In Africa, the disease can occur sporadically or cause endemic outbreaks. Since 2016, cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria.

For the WHO, it is already considered an endemic disease in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana (identified only in animals), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. South.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Generally, the symptoms of this disease are fever, severe headache, muscle aches, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rashes.

Between the first or third of the onset of fever, the rash usually appears; while the lesions are flat or slightly raised, some with transparent or yellowish liquid, which later form scabs, dry up and fall off.

“The number of injuries in a person varies between a few and several thousand. The rash tends to appear on the face, the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet. They can also be found in the mouth, genitals and eyes”, refers to the UN note.

These symptoms can last two to four weeks, then go away on their own, without treatment.

Diagnosis of monkeypox is made by culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunohistochemistry, or electron microscopy. This disease is similar to smallpox, according to specialists, but the skin lesions manifest in outbreaks.

How is it transmitted?

The disease can be transmitted to people if they are in physical contact with an animal that already has it, specifically rodents or primates, since they are the ones that usually present the virus. Even if the contact is made without protection with specimens that are dead, be it their flesh or blood.

Transmission can occur from individual to individual when the infected person has symptoms, between the first two and four weeks, through physical contact. Rashes, bodily fluids, and scabs are all infectious. The risk of contagion also includes objects or clothing that have been touched by the person with the disease.

In the case of pregnant women, the WHO specifies that they can transmit the virus to the fetus through the placenta or through skin-to-skin contact between an infected father and the baby after childbirth.

With the recent outbreak, a case was reported of a UK health worker who cared for a patient with monkeypox and developed a rash 18 days later, the first case of hospital transmission outside of Africa.

Vaccine or treatment?

The WHO states that symptoms may go away on their own without treatment; but the rash should be cared for by letting it dry or covering it with a moist bandage to protect the area.

Newborns, children, and people with immunodeficiencies are most at risk. Complications of more severe cases include pneumonia, confusion, and eye infections that can lead to vision loss.

If it is a severe case, “vaccinia immunoglobulin (VIG), an antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat, marketed as TPOXX) that was also approved for the treatment of monkeypox in January 2022, may be recommended” , narrowed down



Regarding vaccines, the entity details that several vaccines available for the prevention of smallpox give some protection.

Recently, a smallpox vaccine (MVA-BN, also known as Imvamune, Imvanex, or Jynneos) was developed and approved in 2019 for use in monkeypox prevention and is not yet widely available.

However, the WHO reiterated that anyone with symptoms should go to a health care center immediately. In this way, the situation can be addressed in time to prevent further infections.

“Raising awareness about this new situation will help stop further transmission,” is the call made by the WHO.

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