Monkeypox: Questions and Answers About Monkeypox Virus Infection

The fact that cases were detected in several countries at the same time led the authorities to admit that the virus had been circulating for some time before it was detected, making it difficult to characterize the epidemiological course of the outbreak.

How many cases have been confirmed in Europe?

According to data updated by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), since May 7, when the UK reported the first case, 704 cases have been confirmed in 18 European countries, but no deaths have been recorded, and 1,176 worldwide.

How many cases have been confirmed in Portugal?

According to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), 209 cases of Monkeypox infection were confirmed in Portugal, of which 18 within the last 24 hours, all in men between 19 and 61 years of age, the majority of whom were under 40 years of age. ., which are in clinical follow-up and are stable.

Most infections were reported in Lisbon and the Vale do Tejo, but there are also reports of cases in the Nordic countries and the Algarve.

What is the risk assessment of Monkeypox disease?

The clinical manifestation of Monkeypox is usually mild, with most infected people recovering within a few weeks.

The ECDC believes that while most cases have shown mild disease symptoms, the MPXV virus can cause serious illness in certain populations, such as young children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people.

However, the likelihood of cases of serious illness cannot yet be accurately estimated, acknowledges the European Center, which assesses the disease as a moderate risk to people with multiple sexual partners and a low risk to the general population.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue that develops into a rash.

The incubation period is typically six to 16 days, but it can be up to 21 days, and when the scab falls off, a person is no longer contagious.

Who is at risk of becoming infected with monkey pox?

Anyone who has close physical contact with a person infected with Monkeypox has an increased risk of infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who have been vaccinated against smallpox are likely to have some protection against the disease.

Newborns, children and people with immune deficiencies may be at risk for more severe symptoms, as well as healthcare professionals due to their prolonged exposure to the virus.

Where is the disease?

Since 1970, humane cases of monkey poop have been reported in 11 African countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.

Occasionally, there have been cases in non-endemic countries, most of which have been with people who have traveled to African countries where Monkeypox is active. In May, the current outbreak was detected in several countries, with a pattern that the WHO recognizes is not typical of this disease, indicating that the virus would circulate long before it was detected by health authorities.

Is there a risk that the eruption will escalate?

Monkey pox is not considered highly contagious because it requires close physical contact with a person who is contagious. The WHO considers the risk to the general population to be low.

However, the organization responds to the outbreak with “high priority”, in the sense of identifying how the virus spreads, to prevent the spread of transmission chains.

Is monkey pox a sexually transmitted infection?

This virus can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, including sexual contact.

At present, experts have not yet determined whether the virus can be transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids, but direct contact with lesions during intercourse can be a means of transmission.

According to the WHO, the risk of infection is therefore not limited to sexually active persons or men who have sex with men, as anyone who has close physical contact with someone who is contagious may be at risk.

Why is this disease known as monkey pox ”?

The disease was first identified in colonies of monkeys kept in captivity for scientific research in 1958. It was only later discovered in humans, in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a nine-month-old child in a region where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968.

Are there vaccines against monkey pox?

Vaccines used to eradicate smallpox also provide protection against monkey pox, but a newer and specific vaccine against this virus has already been developed. Several studies suggest that smallpox vaccines are about 85% effective in preventing Monkeypox.

In 2019, a new two-dose vaccine was approved, but which according to the WHO remains limited available.

Is vaccination planned in Portugal?

DGS admits that a smallpox vaccine will be administered to contain transmission chains of the virus, but “has always measured the risk and benefit” of this immunization. According to Director-General Graça Freitas, the use in Portugal of the vaccine approved in the United States to be used in certain circumstances in connection with human infection with the Monkeypox virus is being considered.

According to the health authority, the fact that the cases of infection recorded in Portugal were not serious meant that the country did not implement an aggressive vaccination strategy.

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