What is monkeypox, this virus spread in Europe and America? – Release

Within a few days, the monkeypox, or monkeypox, spread: Since May 6, nine cases of the virus have been detected in the UK. According to the British Health Protection Agency, with the exception of the first infected person who recently traveled to Nigeria, these patients became infected across the channel. Spain and Portugal announced on Monday that they had identified about 30 suspected or confirmed cases of the monkey pox. On the same day, health authorities in the Canadian metropolitan area of ​​Montreal found more than a dozen possible cases, while the United States confirmed a patient from Canada. A first confirmed case was identified in Sweden and Italy on Thursday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday it was working with a close interest that some cases in the UK appeared to have passed into the gay community. If the authorities are to be reassured for now, monkeypox is a disease that is not very contagious and no less deadly, increasing the number of these apparent outbreaks in Europe and America is a rare occurrence.

What is monkey pox?

Located in West and Central Africa, the monkeypox is a zoonosis caused by a virus from the same family as human smallpox. The name, however, remains confusing: its origin is not from monkeys, but from other mammals. “In 1958, at a Danish pet store, monkeys developed a disease that was unknown at the time, resembling human cocoon spring. To clarify with Release Antoine Gassain, head of epidemiology and physiopathology at the Institute Pasteur’s Oncogenic Virus Unit, is one of the few interested in the disease in France.

If the animal reservoir has not yet been officially identified, it would seem that rats and squirrels are the cause. It was in 1970 that the first human case was detected in the center of the former Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a 9-year-old child. Among the cases that Antoine Gassain studied in Africa in collaboration with the Pasteur Institute in the region were many children or young people who came into close contact with these small animals.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of monkeypox occur in two stages. They first cover fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue. The rash may then appear, often on the face, and spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals, the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet.

How is the virus transmitted?

In humans, the most commonly known modes of infection are respiratory tract infections and skin lesions that, when scratched, cause scabs that can be touched by another person. “The virus can also be transmitted to the environment, for example if you touch a door handle”, Antoine Gassain added.

New information since the advent of the case in Western countries, it has been mentioned that contamination can also occur during sexual intercourse. “We’re seeing an infection in men who have sex with men,” he said. Which is “New information that needs to be studied properly to better understand our dynamics” Transmission, ”said Ibrahima Sosey Fall, WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Response in Geneva.

Virologists are not surprised by this discovery: “Sexually transmitted infections have been studied and poorly documented. But lesions can occur elsewhere on the skin as well as the genitals, so it seems reasonable for anyone to catch monkeypox during sexual intercourse.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main federal health agency in the United States, also noted that “Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox.”

Is this spread unusual?

Since the first case fifty years ago, the monkeypox has not really disappeared from Africa. The countries affected by the occasional resurgence are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria. In the next region, in 2017 there was an epidemic in several hundred cases. “Only a few have spread to the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Israel.” I remember Antoine Gassain.

But other larger epidemics have spread across the Atlantic. “The most common example is the United States in 2003 [47 cas confirmés et probables selon les CDC, ndlr], Which primarily concerns children. They were infected by small prairie dogs, which themselves were infected by Gambian rats in pet stores. This is by far the largest outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa. The institute observed pastur researchers.

According to Reuters, Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, confirmed that the virus has spread to Europe and America. “Very unusual.” “Historically, there have been very few export cases. This has happened only eight times in the past year. ” He’s done.

Above all, what seems new this time is the cases that have been identified “People who have not necessarily traveled to Africa, where the disease has not been in contact with native, or virus-carrying animals, as was the case during the 2003 epidemic in the United States.” Eric D’Ortenzio, ANRS-emerging infectious disease physician and epidemiologist. “We have the impression that people on European and American soil are experiencing unusual human-to-human transmission, He develops. Public health and research agencies will look into the matter to understand the situation. We need to be careful. ” The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported on Thursday. “Monitor the situation closely” And recommended “To isolate and test in suspicious cases” Then them “Notify immediately”. A first ECDC risk assessment report is expected to be released early next week.

Is there treatment?

No specific vaccine can protect against monkeypox. This makes it possible to reduce the risk of the oldest and therefore the weakest population for the human cocoon spring, which was scheduled for 1980 despite being completely eradicated in 1977. “In Africa, we have noticed that people over the age of 50 who have been vaccinated against smallpox are less likely to be infected with monkeypox.” Antoine insists on Gassain. But since this vaccine has not been used properly for almost thirty years, immunity is mechanically reduced and cases (among juniors) increase. “Monkey pox has become a major health problem” In some African countries, the Pasteur Institute confirmed in 2020, suggesting that the phenomenon could be similar elsewhere on the planet. “In many western countries, where smallpox vaccination has stopped in 1980 or earlier, and immunity has continued to decline, the current population is at risk of a monkeypox epidemic.” Indications of the Pasteur Institute. The likelihood of a monkeypox epidemic continues to grow. “

Can we think of reuse of smallpox vaccine if the number of cases increases? For now, the number of cases is not alarming. Especially since laboratories have very few smallpox strains. These are currently stored in the so-called “P4” structure, which houses some of the deadliest viruses on the planet. However, when a person is infected with monkeypox, they can treat themselves with antiviral drugs, as mentioned in the Mark Manual of Diagnosis and Therapeutics, a reference work. “It’s a disease that heals spontaneously after a few weeks.” Also highlighted Antoine Gessain.

Is the monkeypox virus contagious and dangerous?

Although the human mortality rate from smallpox is more than 30%, monkeypox is considered to be much less dangerous. Its mortality is 1 to 10% in African countries, knowing that this population lives “Poor health conditions”, Reminds the virologist. According to his observations and those of his colleagues, he emphasized that very few people who have died from it have come in contact with it in general. “Superinfection”, Like HIV combined with monkeypox. “It’s not a serious disease, especially in our society where medicines are of good quality.” He wants reassurance.

Monkeypox virus is characterized by a rather long incubation period of one to two weeks. Reassuringly, an infected person can only infect others when clinical symptoms (such as skin acne) appear. Therefore, it is more difficult to transmit the virus than other diseases like flu or covid-19.

Especially since monkeypox is a DNA virus, not an RNA virus, which implies a very low mutation rate. “As a priority, we are not in the context of evolutionary dynamics and mutations. Researcher from the Judiciary Institute Pasteur. So the risk of epidemics is minimal.

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