Questions and answers about monkeypox

Spain and Europe have launched a health alert for monkeypox after detecting cases of this infectious disease in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Madrid.

Questions and answers about monkeypox

Spain and Europe have launched a health alert for monkeypox after detecting cases of this infectious disease in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Madrid. These are the keys:

How many cases are there so far?

The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, said on Wednesday in La Sexta that the preliminary tests carried out in the first seven cases had been positive and assured that this Thursday the National Center for Microbiology (CNM) will confirm the diagnosis. The Community of Madrid reported another 22 patients under study who are progressing positively and are isolated at home, although close surveillance must be maintained in case they require hospitalization. Meanwhile, the health authorities are looking for more patients and the CNM is analyzing this disease, of which 14 cases have been registered in the last days in the United Kingdom and Portugal. The director of the Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, said yesterday that "it is not likely that monkeypox will generate significant transmission, but it cannot be ruled out."

What is monkeypox?

It is a zoonotic viral infection (of animal origin) with characteristics similar to chicken pox and secondary syphilis, rare and usually associated with travelers who have visited West Africa. It usually causes a mild disease that is transmitted by very close contact with fluids and mucous membranes. The incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7 to 14 days, but can be as short as 5 and as long as 21 days, and the illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks. Most patients recover in a few weeks, although 5% of cases can be complicated and lead to pneumonia or hepatitis, and even cause death.

Why have more cases appeared among men who have sex with men?

Monkeypox is not a disease that only affects homosexuals, although it has been among members of this group that the first chains of infection have been found. But the way in which the disease is transmitted, by fluids, suggests that there will be infections among people who have heterosexual relationships.

What symptoms does it cause?

The initial symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, although somewhat milder. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash may appear, usually starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body, including the genitals. The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab that later falls off.

How is it spread?

The Professor of Microbiology at the University of Salamanca Raúl Rivas González explains that the first infections are caused by contact with infected animals and that between humans, transmission occurs through saliva, respiratory excretions, by contact with the exudate of the lesion or the material of the scab or also by the feces, but insists that it is not only spread among homosexuals. "Anyone who has contact with infected fluids can become infected," says this expert, who maintains that the type of virus that is causing the outbreaks in Europe is the mildest, compared to that of Central Africa, potentially more dangerous.

Where are you from?

Although it is called monkeypox, it is likely that the contagion originates from rodents that infect apes or humans through their droppings or through bites. Vicente Soriano, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases and professor at the UNIR Faculty of Health Sciences, explains that it spreads in places with poor hygiene, "although it is not excessively transmissible and there must be very close contact." Another cause of the spread of monkeypox has to do, paradoxically, with the eradication of human smallpox, the only disease eliminated thanks to vaccination. "It is likely that people who are now under 40 years of age have not received the smallpox vaccine, which is effective against monkeypox, and that makes them less protected against this disease," confirms Soriano.

When it was discovered?

The disease was discovered in 1958, when two outbreaks were detected in colonies of monkeys kept for research purposes, although the first human case of monkeypox was reported in August 1970 in Bokenda, a remote village in the equatorial province of the Dominican Republic. Democratic of the Congo.