Monkeypox: Questions and answers about monkeypox virus infection

Monkeypox: Questions and answers about monkeypox virus infection

The fact that cases have been detected in several countries at the same time has led authorities to acknowledge that the virus had been circulating for some time before it was detected, making it difficult to characterize the epidemiological course of the outbreak.

How many cases have been confirmed in Europe?

According to data updated by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), since May 7, when the UK reported the first case, 704 cases have been confirmed in 18 European countries, but no deaths have been recorded, and 1,176 worldwide.

How many cases have been confirmed in Portugal?

According to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), 209 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Portugal, 18 of them in the last 24 hours, all in men aged 19 to 61, and most under the age of 40. ., which are on clinical follow-up and are stable.

Most infections were reported in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo, but there are also case reports in the North and Algarve regions.

What is the risk assessment for monkeypox?

The clinical manifestation of monkeypox is generally mild, and most infected recover within a few weeks.

The ECDC believes that, although most cases show mild symptoms of the disease, the MPXV virus can cause serious illness in certain groups of the population, such as young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

However, the likelihood of cases with severe morbidity cannot yet be accurately estimated, admits the European Center, which assesses the disease as a moderate risk for people with multiple sexual partners and a low risk for the general population.

What are the symptoms of the infection?

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and progression to rash.

The incubation period is usually six to 16 days, but it can be 21, and when the scab falls off, the person is no longer contagious.

Who is in danger of being infected with monkey goddesses?

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

Newborns, children and people with immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms, as well as healthcare professionals due to prolonged exposure to the virus.

Where is the disease?

Since 1970, cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries – Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.

Occasionally, the cases occurred in non-endemic countries, most of which were in people who traveled to African countries where monkeypox is active. In May, the current epidemic was detected in several countries, with a pattern that the WHO acknowledges is not typical of the disease, indicating that the virus would have circulated long before it was detected by health authorities.

Is there a risk that the epidemic will escalate?

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

However, the organization is responding to the epidemic with “high priority” in terms of identifying how the virus is spreading, to prevent the spread of transmission chains.

Are monkeypox a sexually transmitted infection?

This virus can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, including sexual contact.

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

According to the WHO, the risk of infection is therefore not limited to sexually active people or men who have sex with men, as anyone who has close physical contact with someone who is contagious may be at risk.

Why is this disease known as monkeypox?

The disease was first identified in colonies of monkeys held captive for scientific research in 1958. It was only later discovered in humans, in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a nine-month-old child in the region where smallpox became ill. eliminated 1968.

Are there vaccines against monkeypox?

Vaccines used to eradicate smallpox also provide protection against monkeypox, but a newer and specific vaccine for this virus has already been developed. Several studies show that smallpox vaccines are about 85% effective in preventing smallpox.

In 2019, a new two-dose vaccine was approved, but which, according to the WHO, is still limited in availability.

Is vaccination planned in Portugal?

The SBS acknowledges that the smallpox vaccine will be administered to contain virus transmission chains, but has “always weighed the risks and benefits” of this immunization. According to Director-General Graçe Freitas, the use in Portugal of a vaccine approved in the United States for use in certain circumstances in connection with human infection with the monkeypox virus is being considered.

According to the health authorities, the fact that the registered cases of infection in Portugal are not serious meant that that country did not adopt an aggressive vaccination strategy.

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