An extremely rare disease called monkey pox , a less serious “cousin” of common smallpox, is spreading around the world. More than 250 cases have been reported in at least 16 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Experts say the disease is spread by close and prolonged contact with infected individuals.
“The countries that are reporting smallpox now are countries that do not normally have smallpox outbreaks,” Rosamund Lewis, head of the smallpox secretariat for the WHO emergencies program, said Tuesday during a press conference in the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.
Monkeypox (Monkeypox) is endemic in the vicinity of tropical forests in Central and West Africa, but has been increasingly detected in urban areas, according to the WHO.
“This is an emerging disease. It’s been coming up for the last 20 to 30 years, (so) it’s not unknown, it’s very well described,” Lewis told the press. “The risk to the general public therefore appears to be low because we know that the main modes of transmission have been those described in the past.”
In the United States, the first case of monkeypox in 2022 was diagnosed in a hospitalized patient in Massachusetts who had recently traveled to Canada by private transport.
In 2021, two people traveling from Nigeria to the United States were diagnosed with the disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Cases in other parts of the world besides Africa are typically linked to international travel or imported animals infected with smallpox, the CDC said.
Several cases of monkeypox reported in the UK have occurred among people who have not had known travel or contact with others, but there is no cause for alarm, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Thursday to the New Day, gives CNN .
“Right now, we don’t want people to worry,” Murthy said. “These numbers are still small; We want people to be aware of the symptoms and, if they have any concerns, see their doctor.”
What are the early symptoms of monkeypox?
There is an incubation period of seven to 14 days, according to the CDC. Initial symptoms are typically flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache, and muscle weakness, followed by swollen lymph nodes which help the body fight infections and diseases.
“One feature that distinguishes monkeypox infection from smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.
then comes a generalized rash on the face and body , including inside the mouth and on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The painful, raised lesions are pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles. The marks eventually heal and disappear over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.
In the current outbreak, there appears to be a higher number of cases leading to the rash in the groin area of patients, according to the WHO and CDC.
“In some cases, during the early stages of the disease, the rash has been primarily in the genital and perianal area,” John Brooks, medical director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said Monday in an interview with press.
“In some cases it has produced anal or genital lesions that look like other diseases like herpes, chickenpox or syphilis,” he said.
A “notable fraction of cases” in the current outbreak were seen among gay and bisexual men, “but by no means is the current risk of exposure to smallpox unique to the gay and bisexual community In the USA. Anyone, anyone, can develop [e] spread monkeypox,” Brooks said.
Overall, the risk of smallpox is moderate for people with multiple sexual partners and low for the general population, according to a rapid risk assessment report published Monday by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
However, monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection .
How is smallpox transmitted?
Close contact with an infected individual is necessary for the monkeypox virus to spread from monkeys, experts say.
Infection can develop after exposure to “injured skin, mucous membranes, respiratory droplets, infected body fluids or even contact with contaminated clothing,” said Neil Mabbott, chair of immunopathology at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Scotland, in communicated.
“When the lesions heal, the scabs (which can carry infectious viruses) can be shed like dust, which can be inhaled,” said Michael Skinner, from the medical faculty at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, in a statement. .
Person-to-person transmission can occur through large respiratory droplets, and because those droplets are usually confined to just a few meters, “prolonged personal contact is required,” the CDC said. This puts healthcare workers and family members who care for or live with someone who is infected at greater risk, according to the WHO.
Smallpox, which was eradicated worldwide in 1980, also spread primarily through direct and prolonged contact between people, as well as objects contaminated by infected fluids, such as bedding or clothing.
“Smallpox patients became contagious as soon as they developed sores spreading the virus through droplets when coughing or sneezing. They remained contagious until their injuries resolved,” said Paritosh Prasad, director of the Highly Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.
However, based on available historical information, monkeypox appears to be less contagious than smallpox, Prasad said.
“Smallpox can be a serious infection, with death rates from this type of monkeypox virus being around 1% in other outbreaks. These are often in low-income settings with limited access to healthcare,” said Michael Head, Senior Researcher in Global Health at the University of Southampton, UK. There are no reported deaths from the current outbreak.
However, in the developed world, “it would be very unusual to see anything more than a handful of cases in any given outbreak, and we will not see (Covid) style transmission levels “, Head said in a statement.
Common household disinfectants can eliminate the smallpox virus, according to the CDC.
How is smallpox treated?
There are no specific drugs available to treat monkeypox symptoms, so “treatment is usually supportive,” Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.
“However, a vaccine is available that can be administered to prevent the development of the disease,” Whitworth said.
In the US, a two-dose vaccine called Jynneos is currently licensed to prevent monkeypox and can also be used for common smallpox. The vaccine was stockpiled by the US government in case of a resurgence of the eradicated disease.
“We currently have over 1,000 doses available and we expect that level to increase very quickly in the coming weeks as the company provides more doses to us,” said Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology. at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases, to press Monday.
“We hope to maximize the distribution of the vaccine to those we know would benefit from it,” McQuiston said. “These are people who have had contact with known smallpox patients, healthcare professionals, very close personal contact and those in particular who may be at high risk for serious illness.”
Where did monkeypox originate?
Monkeypox got its name in 1958, when “two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys held for research,” the CDC said.
However, the main reservoir of the disease is still unknown, although “African rodents are suspected to participate in transmission,” the agency said.
The first known case of smallpox in people was “recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a period of intensified efforts to eliminate smallpox,” the CDC said. Since then, most cases have been concentrated in 11 African countries – with several outbreaks in the US and Europe related to travel or importation from endemic countries.
An outbreak occurred in the U.S. in 2003 after 47 people in six states — Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin — became ill from contact with their pet prairie dogs, the CDC said.
“The pets became infected after being housed near small mammals imported from Ghana,” the CDC said. “This was the first time that smallpox was reported outside of Africa.”
Jacqueline Howard, Nadia Kounang, Jen Christensen, Michael Nedelman, Paula Newton, John Bonifield, Naomi Thomas, Alex Hardie, and Benjamin Brown of CNN contributed to this story.
Source: CNN Brasil