What is monkeypox, this new virus that is worrying health authorities in Europe?

Unknown to most westerners just a few days ago, monkey pox seems to be suddenly spreading like wildfire across Europe. As Sweden and Italy announced on Thursday that they too had discovered their first human case on their territory, questions surrounding this mysterious disease are mounting. How do we get it? Is she dangerous? Where has it been detected so far? 20 minutes Make the point.

What are the characteristics of monkey pox?

Also called “monkeypox”, monkeypox is a disease that is naturally transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. It comes from the same family as human smallpox and can cause similar symptoms: fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue. Rashes can also occur, often on the face, and spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals. There is no treatment for this viral infection that heals on its own.

How is monkeypox transmitted?

Monkeypox is transmitted between people through contact with an infected person or their bodily fluids, including saliva. “In general, transmission occurs through the respiratory tract,” health authorities in the Madrid region say. However, they note that “the alleged cases of infection suggest that transmission occurred through the mucous membranes during sexual relations”. “We’re seeing transmissions in men who have sex with men,” which is “new information that we need to study closely to better understand the dynamics” of transmission, said Ibrahima Socé Fall, deputy director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency aid, Geneva. “Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox,” emphasized the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In which countries have cases of monkeypox been registered?

This endemic disease in West Africa first appeared outside the continent on May 6 in the United Kingdom, which has since identified nine. This Wednesday, Spain, Portugal, Canada and the United States, in turn, reported that they have noticed, or what appears to be, the presence of monkey pox in their territories. On Thursday, Sweden and Italy, in turn, said they had discovered a first case.

Spain and Portugal have reported identifying about 40 suspected or confirmed cases. In Canada, more than a dozen suspected cases were investigated in Montreal this Wednesday, according to public broadcaster Radio-Canada, citing the city’s health authorities. In the United States, a man who recently traveled to Canada tested positive in the state of Massachusetts.

Are we heading towards a new pandemic?

In general, the authorities want to be reassuring and emphasize that the disease is not very contagious between people. Nevertheless, the increase in apparent outbreaks is worrying WHO and local health authorities. In the UK, the UK Health Service assures that, with the exception of the first case discovered which had recently traveled to Nigeria, the transfer between the other cases would have taken place within the country.

Some countries quickly took measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The health authorities of Portugal and Spain have therefore activated a national health warning. Italy said the situation was “under constant surveillance” and immediately placed the patient in solitary confinement. The Swedish authorities are now investigating “with regional infection control centers to find out if there are more cases”.

Given the situation, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says it is “monitoring the situation closely” and recommends “isolating and testing suspected cases and reporting them promptly”. It is expected to publish its first risk assessment report “early next week.”

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