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5 things to know about monkey pox

Initial infection occurs through direct contact with blood, biological fluids or skin or mucous membrane lesions of infected animals. In Africa, infected monkeys, Gambian giant rats and squirrels appear to be the main reservoirs of the virus.

But in the spring of 2003, cases of monkeypox were confirmed in the United States, the first appearance of the virus outside the African continent. Most of the patients had been in contact with domestic prairie dogs, infected with imported African rodents.

“Secondary, i.e. person-to-person, transmission may result from close contact with infected secretions from the respiratory tract, skin lesions of an infected subject, or objects recently contaminated with biological fluids or materials from the lesions of a patient”, explains the WHO. “Transmission occurs primarily through respiratory droplet particles and usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact.”

What are the symptoms ?

The signs of the disease resemble those of smallpox. The infection can be divided into 2 periods:

the invasive period (0–5 days) characterized by fever, severe headache, lymphadenopathy (swollen glands), back pain, muscle aches and great loss of energy; the rash period ( within 1 to 3 days of the onset of fever) often starting with the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. What are the treatments?

There are no specific treatments. It is estimated that smallpox vaccination could prevent 85% of cases. Problem: the smallpox vaccine is no longer available to the general public since its production was stopped following the global eradication of the disease in 1979.

Severe cases occur more frequently in children and depend on the patient’s state of health before infection. But monkeypox usually heals on its own and symptoms last 14 to 21 days.

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How to reduce the risk of infection?

Prevention must go through a reduction of the risk of transmission by the animal but also between humans. For the first, the WHO recommends above all “restricting or prohibiting the transport of small mammals and African monkeys. And any animal that may have come into contact with an infected animal should be quarantined and handled with care. »

As for a possible risk of an epidemic, “there is nothing to date to confirm that human-to-human transmission alone makes it possible to maintain monkeypox in the human population. »

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