What is smallpox? Is it dangerous and deadly?

Monkey pox, a less dangerous cousin of human smallpox eradicated for forty years, has suddenly appeared since the beginning of the month in Europe and North America, regions of the globe where it is usually very rare. Thus France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Spain or even Sweden have identified cases of the infection.

This is the largest outbreak of monkeypox ever reported outside of Africa. In Morocco, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday evening the discovery of three suspected cases of monkey pox.

According to Van Kerkhove, head of the emerging diseases unit at the WHO, there are currently “less than 200 confirmed and suspected cases”. Rosamund Lewis, smallpox officer in the WHO emergency programme, stressed that “this is the first time that we have seen cases in many countries at the same time and people (diseased) who have not traveled to endemic areas of Africa. “It is not yet known whether the virus has mutated, but these orthopoxviroses “tend to be quite stable“said Ms. Lewis.

What is smallpox of the sign?

According to the WHO: “Monkey pox is an emerging infectious disease caused by a virus transmitted by infected animals, most commonly rodents. It can then spread from person to person, but person-to-person transmission alone cannot sustain an outbreak. The clinical presentation is similar to that seen in patients with formerly smallpox, but less severe. Smallpox was eradicated worldwide in 1980. However, monkeypox is still present sporadically in parts of central and western Africa near tropical rainforests. In general, the case fatality rate in monkeypox epidemics is 1-10%, but with proper care, most patients recover. »

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What are the symptoms of smallpox sign?

On the website of the health agency, Public Health France, we can read: “infection with the Monkeypox virus begins with a feveroften loud and accompanied by headache of achesand asthenia (state of great weakness ). After about 2 days appears a eruption [cutanée] made of vesicles filled with liquid which evolve towards drying out, the formation of scabs and then scarring. From itchingcan occur. The vesicles are more concentrated on the face, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The infection also affects mucous membranes , in the mouth and genital area. The lymph nodesbecome swollen and painful, under the jaw and in the neck. »

“The incubation of the disease can range from 5 to 21 days. The fever phase lasts about 1 to 3 days. The disease usually heals spontaneously, after 2 to 3 weeks “, adds the same source.

In contrast, the Monkeypox virus strain currently in circulation has so far not caused any severe cases. “At this stage, the cases reported in Europe are mainly benign , and there are no reported deaths, ”reassures the health agency. However, the disease is often more serious “in children and people immunocompromised “. This can indeed be complicated by “superinfection of skin lesions or respiratory, digestive, ophthalmological or neurological damage”.

How does Monkeypox transmit?

“The Monkeypox virus, informs Public Health France, can be transmitted by direct contact with lesions on the skin or mucous membranes of a sick person, as well as by droplets (saliva, sneezing, sputtering, etc.). You can also become contaminated by contact with the environmentof the patient (bedding, clothes, dishes, bath linen, etc.). It is therefore important that patients [restent en isolement] until the last crusts disappear, most often [au bout de] 3 weeks… Infection with the MKP virus does not constitute a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but direct contact with damaged skin during sexual intercourse facilitates transmission. »

For these reasons, health authorities recommend against wearing clothes of people likely to be ill and not have close contactswith them. In case of symptoms, you must isolate yourself; after recovery, wash clothes thoroughly, including towels and sheets. Likewise, they suggest, in case of coughing and sneezing, using disposable tissues and avoiding, if possible, doing so in the presence of other people.

In addition, the European Union’s disease agency has estimated that the risk of contagion from monkeypox is ” very weakin the general population, but raised» in people with multiple sex partners. For its part, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) indicated in its first risk assessment that “For the general population, the probability of contagion is very low“.

Treatment and prevention of smallpox of the sign

There is no specific drug against monkeypox, treatment is symptomatic. Vaccination against human smallpox, however, provides 85% effective cross-protection against Monkeypox. In all cases, the risk can be reduced by avoiding physical contact with the patient and wearing protective equipment.

Disease prevention also involves restricting trade in small African mammals and monkeys. Animals in captivity must not be vaccinated against smallpox (risk of animal vaccines). Suspicious animals should be quarantined.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recall thathand washingrepresents a decisive action against this virus. “Practice good hand hygiene after any contact with infected animals or humans. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” the CDC recommends.

Note, however, thatmost patients recover without treatment after two to four weeks.

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