How to recognize and treat it?

The Monkeypox epidemic continues its transmission by affecting new countries and worries the scientific world. How to recognize the disease? And how to cure it in case of contamination?

After a first case in the United States, monkeypox infections have been reported in several other Western countries. However, this virus was so far limited to tropical rainforest areas of West and Central African countries, with few cases occasionally exported abroad.

Cases have been detected in the UK, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany, and Canada. The latest suspected case was found in Israel in a man who recently returned to the country from Western Europe.

This zoonosis has been reported mainly in young males who have never traveled to Africa before. To date, around 80 cases have been confirmed worldwide and another 50 suspected cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The transmission

Human-to-human transmission takes place in different ways, but generally by the respiratory route after close contact with respiratory secretions as for the common cold or the coronavirus. Monkeypox can also be transmitted via skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects.

Symptoms

As with smallpox, infected cases show red spots on the body, similar to measles or chickenpox.

The onset of symptoms goes through two stages. The first, which lasts up to 5 days, is manifested by mild fever of more than 38°, strong headaches, back pain, intense muscle pain, and great fatigue.

The second stage begins up to 3 days after the onset of fever, and is characterized by skin rashes. They tend to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than the trunk.

The rash affects the face in 95% of cases, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet in 75% of cases, the oral mucous membranes in 70% of cases, the genitals in 30% and the conjunctiva in 20% of cases, as well as the cornea.

The incubation period usually lasts around 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days before symptoms begin to appear.

The treatment

Among the control measures, isolation and medical surveillance of all suspected or confirmed cases caused by this virus is strongly recommended. People who are frail or have comorbidities should be watched closely.

Monkeypox is a disease that usually resolves spontaneously in 2 to 4 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 nature of the complications.

Complications of monkeypox can include secondary infections, bronchopneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis and corneal infection with blindness and case fatality rate is between 3-6%.

To treat symptoms of monkeypox, European Medical Association (EMA) recommendations point to an antiviral agent known as Tecovirimat, based on data from animal and human studies, but it is not yet widely accepted. available. It is preferable to start with symptomatic treatment and therefore medical advice is necessary in all cases.

Regarding vaccines, vaccination against smallpox has been shown by several studies to be approximately 85% effective, however, first generation vaccines are no longer available to the general public.

A vaccine (two doses) based on a modified attenuated vaccinia virus (Ankara strain) was approved for the prevention of monkeypox in 2019, but availability remains limited.

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