Monkeypox: How is it spread, who is at risk and how can I protect myself | Health | The magazine

monkeypoxalso known as ‘simian orthopoxvirus’ (or ‘monkeypox’, in English), It is a rare disease originating in Africa which generally heals spontaneously.. Although similar to classic smallpox, it is considered less serious, with a mortality rate of between 3 and 6% depending on the case.

The first human case of monkeypox was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire), in a nine-year-old boy living in an area where smallpox had been eradicated since 1968. Since this year, cases of simian orthopoxvirus have been recorded in 11 countries Africans. The first outside this continent were recorded in the United States in early 2003.

For its part, classic smallpox has been considered eradicated thanks to vaccination since 1979, as announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) a year later.

Monkeypox has two variants: West Africa, with a mortality rate slightly above 3%; and that of Central Africa, more serious and higher than 10%, according to the WHO.

what produces it

This disease is caused by monkeypox virus, genus orthopoxvirus which belongs to the same group as the smallpox virus (variola virus), the virus used in the smallpox vaccine (vaccinia) and the cowpox virus.

The pathogen of this disease can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. When the virus spreads to humans, it mainly comes from various wild animals, rodents or primates.

It has an incubation period of between 5 and 21 days.being in most cases between 7 and 14 days.

how does it spread

It is a pathology of weak transmission. Person-to-person transmission occurs through saliva or respiratory excretionsor by contact with exudate from the lesion or scab.

Also through faeces, as well as in the sexual intercoursewithout expressly being a sexually transmitted disease.

Contact with objects that have been in contact with the infected person such as clothing, sheets, towels or items such as kitchen utensils they may also represent a focus of infection.

The virus can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to the fetus through the placenta or through contact of an infected parent with the child during or after childbirth through contact with skin to skin.

The risk of contracting the disease from animals can be reduced avoid unprotected contact with wild animalsespecially those who are sick or dead (including contact with their flesh and blood).

Fever is one of the main symptoms of monkeypox. Photo: Pexels

what are your symptoms

Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Back pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

The rash usually begins on the first or third day of the onset of fever. Lesions may be flat or slightly raisedfilled with a transparent or yellowish liquid, to later form crusts, dry up and fall off.

The number of injuries sustained by a person varies from a few to 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.

Symptoms usually last two to four weeks and go away on their own without treatment.

Who is most at risk

You are at higher risk of infection Every person come into physical contact with a person showing symptoms or an infected animal.

People who have been vaccinated against smallpox are likely to have some protection against infection.

In 1980, smallpox became the first human disease to be eradicated, so vaccination against this disease was stopped. However, young people are more likely to get it. However, people who have been vaccinated against smallpox should also take precautions to protect themselves and others.

They may have more severe symptoms and a higher risk of death newborns, children and people with underlying immunodeficiencies. Health workers are also at high risk of contagion due to prolonged exposure to the virus.

A nurse gives a vaccine in a file photo.
Photo: Fabric Luis Fabric Luis

how does it heal

There is no specific vaccine or treatment available for this virus that causes monkeypox, and treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms.

Vaccination against human smallpox provides protection against monkeypox, although vaccination was stopped in 1980 when it was considered eradicated.

Patients are contagious until all scabs have fallen off.

There is currently a vaccine approved by several countries for the prevention and treatment of smallpox, called JYNNEOSTM (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex), produced by Danish pharmaceutical company Bavarian Nordic.

This compound is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the common and monkeypox. This country also counts doses of an older generation vaccine called ACAM2000, manufactured by Emergent Product Development.

Both vaccines use live virus, but only JYNNEOSTM suppresses the virus’s ability to replicate, making it the safest option, McQuiston said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also developing treatment guidelines to enable the deployment of antivirals tecovirimat and brincidofovirboth licensed for the treatment of smallpox.

The JYNNEOSTM vaccine is also licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA)on the other hand, the ACAM2000 still does not have authorization for use on the old continent.

Hand washing is essential to prevent the spread of disease. Photo: Pexels

Protective measures

To reduce the risk of contagion, limit contact with people who suspect they have the disease or who are confirmed cases.

People infected with monkeypox must be isolated and if possible cover any wounds on the skin.

Also, healthy people who are close to affected people should wear a medical mask when they are close, especially if they cough or have mouth injuries.

Avoid skin to skin contact and if you have direct contact, wear disposable gloves. Wear a mask if you must touch an infected person’s clothing or bedding.

Wash your hands often with soap and water o use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coming into contact with the infected person, or with your clothes (including linens and towels) or other items or surfaces that you have touched or may have come into contact with your rash or respiratory secretions (for example, utensils or dishes).

Wash the infected person’s clothes, towels, linens and utensils with warm water and detergent.. Clean and disinfect all contaminated surfaces and properly dispose of contaminated waste (such as dressings). (YO)

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