Confirmed cases of monkeypox in Europe, health authorities reassuring –

Several dozen suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox have been detected for a week in Europe and North America, raising fears of the arrival of a new epidemic. But if they are surprised by this outbreak, the health authorities want to be reassuring.

Cases of monkey pox – or simian orthopoxvirus – have been detected in recent days, particularly in France, Italy, the United Kingdom and North America. This rare disease, which is transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa, is usually endemic in West Africa.

The disease will probably not be responsible for the next global pandemic, but these contaminations surprise the health authorities. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, wants to be reassuring for the time being. No link could be established between this epidemic outbreak and the resumption of travel or an immune system weakened by containment measures.

Smallpox-like symptoms

Symptoms of monkeypox resemble those seen in the past in people with smallpox, but are much less severe.

Infection with the virus begins with a fever, which is often high and accompanied by headaches, body aches and fatigue. After about two days, a blistering eruption appears, scab formation and scarring. Itching is common. The bubbles are more concentrated on the face, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The mucous membranes are also affected, in the mouth and the genital area.

Spontaneous recovery

The disease is generally mild and most often heals spontaneously, after two to three weeks. Severe cases occur more frequently in children and are related to the extent of exposure to the virus, the patient’s medical condition and the severity of complications.

There are no specific treatments or vaccines for monkeypox but, according to the WHO, outbreaks can be contained. Smallpox vaccination has been proven in the past to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. However, the vaccine is no longer available to the general public after its manufacture was discontinued following the global eradication of smallpox in 1980.

Limited human-to-human transmission

When the virus reaches humans, it is mainly from various wild animals, rodents or primates, for example. Infection results from direct contact with blood, biological fluids, skin lesions or mucous membranes of infected animals.

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Human-to-human transmission is limited, according to the WHO. It can result from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected subject, or objects recently contaminated with body fluids or material from a patient’s lesions.


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