Monkeypox: Questions and Answers About Monkeypox Virus Infection

Monkeypox: Questions and Answers About Monkeypox Virus Infection

The fact that cases were detected simultaneously in multiple countries led authorities to admit that the virus had been circulating for some time before it was detected, making it difficult to describe the epidemiological course of the outbreak.

How many confirmed cases are there in Europe?

According to updated data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), since the UK reported its first case on May 7, there have been 704 confirmed cases in 18 European countries, but no deaths, and 1,176 cases globally.

How many confirmed cases are there in Portugal?

According to the Directorate General of Health (DGS), Portugal has confirmed 209 cases of monkeypox infection, 18 of which occurred in the past 24 hours, in males between the ages of 19 and 61, most of them under the age of 40. , During clinical follow-up, the condition was stable.

Most of the reported infections have been in Lisbon and the Tejo Valley, but cases have also been recorded in the northern and Algarve regions.

What is the risk assessment for monkeypox?

The clinical manifestations of monkeypox are generally mild, and most infected individuals recover within a few weeks.

The ECDC believes that while most cases show mild disease symptoms, the MPXV virus can cause severe disease in certain populations, such as young children, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised.

However, the probability of severe cases cannot be accurately estimated at this time, acknowledged by the European Centre, which assesses the disease as moderate risk in people with multiple sexual partners and low risk in the general population.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and development of a rash.

The incubation period is generally 6 to 16 days, but can be as long as 21 days, and when the scab falls off, a person is no longer infectious.

Who is at risk of contracting monkeypox?

Anyone who has had close physical contact with someone infected with monkeypox is at a higher risk of infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who have been vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection against the disease.

Newborns, children and people with immune deficiencies may face more severe symptoms, as can health care workers because they have been exposed to the virus for longer periods of time.

Where is the disease?

Since 1970, 11 African countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan – have reported cases of monkeypox in humans.

Occasional cases have occurred in non-endemic countries, most of which have occurred in people who have traveled to African countries where monkeypox is active. In May, the current outbreak was detected in several countries, a pattern the WHO believes is not typical of the disease, suggesting the virus was spreading long before health authorities discovered it.

Is there a risk of an escalation of the epidemic?

Monkeypox is not considered highly contagious because it requires close physical contact with someone who is contagious. WHO considers the risk to the general population to be low.

However, the group is responding to the outbreak with a “high priority” by identifying how the virus spreads to prevent the spread of transmission chains.

Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection?

The virus can spread from person to person through close physical contact, including sexual contact.

Experts have not yet determined whether the virus can be transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids, but direct contact with lesions during sexual intercourse may be one mode of transmission.

The risk of infection is therefore not limited to sexually active people or men who have sex with men, as anyone who has had close physical contact with someone who is contagious could be at risk, according to the World Health Organization.

Why is the disease called “monkeypox”?

The disease was first identified in 1958 in a monkey colony kept in captivity for scientific research. The disease was not identified in a 9-month-old child in a smallpox-infected area in the Democratic Republic of Congo until 1970. It was eliminated in 1968.

Is there a vaccine against monkeypox?

The vaccine used to eradicate smallpox also protects against monkeypox, but newer and specific vaccines have been developed against the virus. Several studies have shown that the smallpox vaccine is about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

In 2019, a new two-dose vaccine was approved, but according to the World Health Organization, supplies of the vaccine remain limited.

Does Portugal plan to get vaccinated?

The DGS acknowledged that a smallpox vaccine would be administered to curb the chain of transmission of the virus, but “always weighs the risks and benefits of such immunization.” According to Director-General Graça Freitas, a vaccine authorized by the United States for human infection with monkeypox virus in some cases is being considered for use in Portugal.

According to health authorities, the cases of infection registered in Portugal are not serious, which means that the country has not pursued an aggressive vaccination strategy.

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