According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3,500 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 42 countries, with the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal being the most affected. On June 23, the National Institute of Health confirmed the first three cases of the disease in Colombia.
(Recommendations to avoid getting infected with monkeypox).
The truth is that the first records of the disease are from 1958, in a population of Asian monkeys that were used for research on the polio vaccine. The first case described in humans was in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
(Monkeypox is not currently a health emergency: WHO).
So why after 50 years do we find the first major outbreak?
Pesquisa Javeriana spoke with three experts to clarify the main doubts about this disease.
According to Carlos Enrique Trillos, an epidemiologist at the Universidad del Rosario, it is “a virus of the Orthopoxvirus genus, which contains DNA, not RNA, for its replication and infects both animals and humans.”
María Fernanda Gutiérrez, virologist and professor at the Department of Microbiology at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ), clarifies that the covid virus and the monkeypox virus behave differently.
“The main difference is that the nucleic acid of covid is RNA. Instead, the monkeypox is DNA (…) the covid makes many mutations, as we saw with the variants. On the contrary, monkeypox does not mutate, it is stable, so one can easily follow the virus and know where it came from and how it got there,” said Gutiérrez.
In fact, the molecular test for covid, the PCR, is more complicated because the RNA has to be converted into DNA, and then amplified. Monkeypox, on the other hand, is DNA, so it’s directly amplified and easier.
Regarding the symptoms, John Mario González, an immunologist at the Universidad de los Andes, affirms that monkeypox is a skin disease. “The main symptom is the appearance of an outbreak that starts as a small lesion, then a blister is generated and a navel forms that retracts and turns into a scab. In addition to that, this virus also produces fever, swollen glands at the cervical level, general malaise, and some respiratory symptoms,” he said.
According to Gutierrez, The spread of the disease occurs through close contact.“where there is skin-to-skin friction or there is the presence of fluids and other secretions, such as saliva, vaginal discharge, semen or sneezing particles.”
Therefore, for González, if someone becomes infected, and although it depends on the medical evaluation, they should be isolated for two to four weeks, “we have to wait until there are no fresh lesions and the scabs are dry, because it is from that moment that stops transmitting”.
Regarding the lethality of the disease, González maintains that monkeypox
it is not necessarily fatal. However, “if someone who is immunocompromised becomes
It is contagious and if it is not taken care of, it could have complications.”
Of course, Trillos makes it clear that, to stop the spread of the virus, “the key is to minimize exposure (…) With risk behaviors or close contact with cases, you should go to the doctor and notify him. In probable or confirmed cases, isolation and medical management are necessary.