UK health authorities have confirmed a case of monkeypox (monkeypox) – a rare smallpox-related viral infection – in a person recently arrived from Nigeriathe latter is receiving specialist care in an isolation unit at the infectious disease hospital unit Guy and St Thomas in Londonhas affirmed on Saturday the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The UKHSA did not release any details about the person’s gender or age, but said they were working to identify anyone who was in close contact with the infected patient, including people who traveled on the same flight, but what are the symptoms of this disease?
Monkeypox is a relative of smallpoxa disease that was eradicated in 1980 but is less transmissible, causes milder symptoms, and is less fatal. the disease typically lasts for two to four weeks ei symptoms may appear five to 21 days after infectionand these normally result in a mix of fever, headache, body aches, back pain, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes.
The latter symptom is typically what helps doctors distinguish monkeypox from chickenpox or smallpox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Once you have a fever, the key feature of monkeypox is a nasty rash with rashes, which will then tend to develop one to three days later, often starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. with these skin lesions which may be few, as well as thousands.
The resulting lesions will undergo a nasty ripening process, from macules (flat lesions) to papules (raised lesions), to then become vesicles (fluid-filled lesions), then pustules (pus-filled lesions) and finally crusts ( crusty lesions) before falling.
Why is it called monkeypox?
The virus Monkeypox belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus in the Poxviridae family and it was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in the laboratory monkeys kept for research, and that’s where the name comes from.
However, monkeys may not be the ones to blame for the outbreaks, and the natural reservoir of this disease remains unknown, even though the WHO states that rodents are the most likely contributors to this disease.
“In Africa, evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in many animals including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, several species of monkeys.”
states the United Nations health agency.
But where is monkeypox found? This disease, as you may have guessed, causes mainly outbreaks in tropical rainforest regions of Central and West Africa and typically not seen in Europewith the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) having recorded the first human case of monkeypox in 1970.
Since then, cases have been reported in 11 African countries, namely: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
The first monkeypox outbreak reported outside of Africa it has been linked to an import of infected mammals in 2003 in the United Statesaccording to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, most recently, in 2018 and 2019, to two travelers from the UK, one from Israel and one from Singapore.
What all 4 subjects had in common was a previous trip to Nigeria, however, monkeypox was diagnosed following a major epidemic that occurred in Nigeria, at least according to the European health agency. , the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
But how do you get monkeypox virus, and is there a cure?
To get infected with the virus of monkeypox you just need to be bitten or scratched by an infected animal and therefore a carrier of the virus, eating game meat, coming into direct contact with an infected human being or touching contaminated sheets or clothing.
After this first step, the virus enters the body through skin lesions, the respiratory tract or mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth), and human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets, which generally cannot travel more than a few meters, so prolonged face-to-face contact would be required.
Obviously the first thing that one wonders if there is to worryand the answer is no as, according to what stated by the UKHSA in its confirmation statement of the case, the monkeypox virus –Monkeypox–, “it is usually a mild, self-limiting disease, and most people recover within a few weeks“.
“It is important to point out that monkeypox does not spread easily among people and the overall risk to the general public is very low”
said Dr. Colin Brown, the agency’s director of clinical and emerging infections.
Although its symptoms are milder than those of smallpox, it has been shown that monkeypox causes death in 11% of infected patients compared to about 30% of smallpox, according to the WHO, with mortality being higher among children and young adults, while immunocompromised individuals are particularly at risk of serious disease.
Regarding its treatment and prevention, there is currently no specific treatment recommended for monkeypox and usually goes away on its own, however Smallpox vaccination is believed to be highly effective in preventing monkeypoxbut since smallpox was declared eradicated more than 40 years ago, first generation smallpox vaccines are no longer available to the general public.
A new vaccine developed by Bavarian Nordic for the prevention of smallpox and monkeys has been approved in the European Union, the United States and Canada (under the trade names Imvanex, Jynneos and Imvamune) and antivirals are also being developed.
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