Since early May, several cases of monkeypox have been reported in North America and Europe, raising concerns that the disease, endemic in parts of Africa, is spreading.
Most people recover within a few weeks, and monkeypox has been fatal only in rare cases.
There have been thousands of infections in some parts of Central and West Africa in recent years, but this is rare in Europe and North America.
France announced its first case on Friday.
“What is monkeypox?” –
Monkeypox is a virus that is transmitted to humans from animals, with symptoms very similar to smallpox but less severe clinically.
In Africa, monkeypox has been found in many animals, including rope squirrels, wood squirrels, Gambian poacher rats, dormice, and various species of monkeys and others.
However, the World Health Organization states that human-to-human transmission is limited.
Symptoms of monkeypox in humans include lesions, rashes on the face, palms or soles, scabs, fever, muscle aches and chills.
The monkeypox was first discovered in 1970 in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a nine-year-old boy in the region where smallpox had been eradicated two years earlier.
According to the WHO, since 1970, monkey infections have been reported in 11 African countries: Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and the South. .
In the spring of 2003, cases were confirmed in the United States – the first time the disease appeared outside Africa.
– How is it transmitted? –
Transmission from animals to humans can occur through direct contact with blood, body fluids, or lesions of the skin or mucous membranes of infected animals.
Secondary transmission or human-to-human transmission may occur in close contact with airway secretions, skin lesions of an infected person, or newly infected objects.
Transmission through drip respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts at greater risk of health care workers, family members and other close contacts with infected people.
On Monday, the WHO reported that some of the cases recently confirmed in Britain appeared among gays.
But experts warn that it is too early to establish a connection.
“Although the current group of cases involves men who have sex with men, it is probably too early to draw conclusions about the mode of transmission or to believe that sexual activity was necessary for transmission if we do not have accurate epidemiological data and analysis,” said Michael. Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, told the Science Media Center (SMC).
– How serious is it? –
It is usually an independent disease, the symptoms of which last from two to four weeks.
Severe cases are more common in children and are related to the extent of the virus, the patient’s health and the nature of the complications.
The incidence and mortality rates varied, but remained between 0 and 10 percent in all reported infections.
“It is estimated that the West African strain that exists in the UK has a mortality rate of around one per cent. The Congo region also has a strain that can be fatal in 10 percent of cases, but there is no strain in the UK, ”said Simon Clark, an associate professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading. .
– Is there a cure? –
There is no specific treatment, but smallpox vaccination has been found to be 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.
However, access to smallpox vaccines is now limited as the disease has been eradicated worldwide.
“The good news is that the smallpox vaccine works well against monkeypox. The bad news is that most people under the age of 45 do not have a smallpox vaccine, ”said epidemicist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding.