Cases continue to be added to the monkeypox outbreaks, both in number of confirmed and suspected cases. Although for now the risk of this disease remains limited, the concern increases with the number of affected patients. In recent days, the Ministry of Health has also made public its protocol to deal with this disease. That is why it is convenient to review the evolution of this virus in our environment, what its symptoms are and what other things we know about this infection.
Evolution of the outbreak in Spain.
The number of confirmed cases has grown notably in recent days, from 7 to 30 only in the Community of Madrid, all of them evolve favorably. The first case was detected on May 17 and the suspects are already spread throughout various Autonomous Communities such as the Canary Islands, Galicia or the Basque Country, and the Community of Madrid itself, adding up in total 54 suspected cases.
Research is currently being done into the link between the outbreaks that occurred in the Community of Madrid with the cases detected in the Canary Islands, and in turn with the outbreaks in the United Kingdom, the European country most affected by this disease along with Spain.
As they explain from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, the symptoms of this infection are “similar to but milder than those of smallpox”. The disease initially manifests with fever, headaches, muscle and/or back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. One to three days after the fever, the lesions usually appear in the form of a rash.
The typical incubation period is 7 to 14 days, but it can vary and be as long as 21. In total, the disease disappears after a time ranging from two to four weeks, although it can cause death in a number limited people.
How it is transmitted and what precautions those infected must take.
The virus is transmitted through contact with an infected person or animal, although it can also be spread through surfaces. The virus would enter the body of the new host through a wound, by inhalation or through the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth).
Human-to-human transmission is still considered limited, however infected people must take certain precautions. It is recommended that infected people stay isolated as much as possible. This isolation can occur at home, since except in severe cases, hospitalization is not necessary. It is important that a follow-up be carried out to assess whether this hospitalization is necessary.
From the Ministry of Health it is recommended also to people, such as cohabitants, who were in contact with the infected who extreme hygiene and wash their hands after contact. Another precautionary measure is to cover skin lesions and, especially in cases where the disease causes respiratory symptoms, the use of surgical masks.
Chronology of the outbreak and evolution in other countries.
The outbreaks in Europe were detected on May 7 through a first patient in the UK who had traveled to Nigeria. In this African country there had already been confirmed 558 cases since 2017, with 8 deceased. none of them in the last year. The data corresponds to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, although other sources give higher figures.
Returning to the cases detected in Europe, the United Kingdom confirmed another two on May 14, cases unrelated a priori to the previous one. On the 15th, the World Health Organization (WHO) was warned. In addition to the United Kingdom and Spain, cases have been detected in Belgium, Portugal, Canada, the United States and Australia.
The virus and its relation to smallpox.
The virus belongs to Orthopoxvirus family and it is closely related to human or conventional smallpox, although the danger that this implied for human health was much greater. Smallpox was the first disease to be declared eradicated.
It was the WHO who in 1979 announced this historic event triggered by a global vaccination campaign. Vaccination that ceased the following year. We also know that this vaccine against smallpox is capable of reducing the incidence of its variant by 85%.
The “new” variant was detected in the 1970s but its incidence in humans was very limited during the 20th century. However, the drop in the proportion of the population vaccinated against smallpox together with other socioeconomic factors has meant that outbreaks of this variant have been increasing in recent decades until reaching the current situation.
Image | Andrea Piacquadio