UK has detected seven cases in people monkey pox, British health authorities are investigating the origins of these unusual infections of animal origin, which have been diagnosed between 6 and 15 May.
The first case was detected on May 7 in a man who had recently traveled to Nigeria, where it is believed that he had contracted the infection.
Later, on May 14, two new cases were confirmed, unrelated to the previous one. And as of the end of this week, officials have reported the detection of four new cases (three of them in London and one in the north-west of England), with no links to previous cases or travel history to risky areas .
“The evidence suggests that there may be community transmission”, said Susan Hopkins, adviser to the United Kingdom Health Protection Agency (UKHSA). However, the agency emphasized in a statement that the virus that causes the disease “not easily transmitted”Therefore the risk of infection in the population is low.
British officials say the last four cases have been identified in men who define themselves as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
What is monkeypox virus?
Monkeypox is an uncommon viral infection. Cases found are usually linked to visits West AfricaWhere, despite the fact that it is a rare zoonosis, greater numbers of affected people have been reported.
According to World Health Organization data, 558 suspected cases have been documented in Nigeria between 2017 and April 2022, of which 241 have been confirmed. Of these, eight ended with the death of the patient. So far this year, 15 cases (46 suspects) of the disease have been confirmed.
“Experts were already attentive to this disease because the number of cases in Africa has increased significantly in recent months,” says Fernando de la Calle, a doctor Infectious, Tropical and Traveler Diseases Unit of La Paz-Carlos III Hospital in Madrid.
It is believed that the main host of the pathogen, which belongs to the family of orthopoxvirusThere are rodents, from where they can pass to humans, monkeys and other apes.
How does the monkeypox virus spread from person to person?
“Transmission to humans is uncommon” and occurs primarily when humans enter wild environments and come into contact with contaminated animals or meat, exposed Faraco SagarTreasurer of the Spanish Society of Tropical Medicine and International Health. Generally, these cases of inter-species jumping are self-limiting, as the virus is not easy to spread between people.
For transmission to occur, Faraco explains, there must be a close contact With an infected person, through mucous membranes, wounds caused by the disease, or through thick droplets of saliva.
virus is similar to smallpoxA disease that has been considered eradicated in humans since the 1980s. “In fact, there is evidence that people vaccinated against smallpox have some protection against the monkeypox virus, due to their resemblance to them,” point out Faraco and Dee Street.
The vast majority of people affected by monkeypox, Faraco explains, do not suffer from severe disease and recover within a few weeks, although in some cases it can be severe and leave sequels.
What are the symptoms of this infection?
According to World Health Organization data, monkeypox virus has two lineages, one from the Congo Basin and the other from West Africa. According to WHO statistics, at least the first identified case has been infected with this last lineage, with a fatality rate of about 1%. In the case of Central African ancestry, mortality rates up to 10% have been reported.
Children and pregnant women are at increased risk of complications.
Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue. A typical rash may appear, usually on the face, which can spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals.
This eruption goes through different phases. At first, the lesions resemble chickenpox, but later they become a scab that falls off.
,The disease may remain active for two to three weeks. and will remain contagious until all lesions have resolved,” says de la Calle, who recalls that these cases should be kept in high-level isolation units.
How does it spread from apes to humans?
“Human cases of monkeypox have been described since the 1970s,” Faraco said. “What is shocking about the UK case is that a link, a connection between the identified cases, has not yet been described.”
As they tell, in 2003 there was a disease outbreak in america, with over 40 affected. “In that case it turned out that the common link was prairie dogs that were bred from infected rodents that came from Ghana and then sold as pets,” says the expert.
For the time being, all cases identified in the United Kingdom have been isolated and their contacts studied to trace the origin of the infection and prevent possible new cases.
Given the identification of the latest cases among gay or bisexual men, health officials have specifically urged these groups to be attentive to any bruising or unusual rash and to contact medical service without delay in case of any suspicion. asked for.
Both Faraco and de la Calle recall that “the virus knows no bounds, at least in a globalized world like ours.” Therefore, “it is important to remain vigilant and prepare systems to deal with new zoonoses.”
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