Monkeypox Q&A: 10 key questions about the virus answered by health experts

Monkeypox Q&A: 10 key questions about the virus answered by health experts

Participation In the NationalWorld Today newsletter

This is said by Dr Mike Skinner, Reader in Virology at Imperial College London, and Martin Michaelis, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Kent.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus

1. What is monkeypox?

Professor MichaelisMonkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The monkeypox virus is closely related to the smallpox virus but is less contagious and less deadly. It has nothing to do with the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox.

Dr. Skinner: Monkeypox is a large and complex virus. It is closely related to the smallpox virus, which was eradicated in 1980 by vaccination with the vaccinia virus – which also protects against monkeypox.

Monkeypox was first seen in monkeys at a medical facility in Copenhagen in 1958, with the first human cases appearing in 1970.

2. How is it spread and how do you get infected with it?

Professor Michaelis: Monkeypox virus is endemic in parts of central and western Africa. Rodents are thought to be the main reservoir species, such as gambian rats, flowerheads, and African squirrels. Most human infections occur through direct contact with infected animals.

You are less likely to become infected when you are in the same room with an infected person, if there is no direct contact.

Dr. Skinner: It is spread by close contact, even intimate contact, for example when caring for children, sharing a bed, or during sexual contact.

It can be picked up and spread through broken skin or by mouth or eyes after contact with pus from open spots (directly or from surfaces), by inhaling dust from dry scales after they have been thrown into bedding and clothing, and by inhaling droplets diffused from the mouth or nose – but Only for very short distances, unlike Covid.

3. Does it come from animals?

Dr. Skinner: Yes, but not from monkeys but from small mammals – such as rodents, flowers and squirrels – in Africa.

Professor Michaelis: The main reservoir is rodents such as gambian rats, flower rats and African squirrels in Central and West Africa. These rodents can then infect other animals and humans. Despite the name monkeypox, monkeypox virus is not usually found in monkeys. The virus got its name only, because it was discovered in a cynomolgus monkey in 1958.

The rash usually begins one to five days after the first symptoms of monkeypox appear

4. What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Dr. Skinner: A few days after infection, the first signs can be fever, headache, malaise, and muscle aches that precede the appearance of the rash – the spots follow a path through the blisters – closed at first but open later – down to crusts that eventually fall off.

Professor Michaelis: Monkeypox patients were described as sick for up to four weeks.

5. Is it fatal?

Dr. Skinner: Only rarely, and this depends on the breed. The Central African (Congo) breed has a mortality rate in Africa of up to 10%. The West African (Nigerian) breed is milder, with a mortality rate in Africa of 1 to 2%.

No deaths were observed in the 2003 outbreak of the West African breed in the United States, which was transmitted to domestic prairie dog pets from imported African animals, despite 73 cases.

Professor Michaelis: As far as we know, the current British cases are caused by monkeypox viruses of the less lethal West African strain.

Mortality rates have been determined in African countries with limited healthcare capacity. It is not clear how deadly monkeypox is in a high-income country such as the United Kingdom with a well-developed health care system and modern intensive care facilities.

6. What is the treatment?

Dr. Skinner: They are usually boosters (liquids) but a newer version of the smallpox vaccine has been licensed for post-exposure use as well as pre-exposure use. Antiviral medications are also available for post-exposure treatment.

Professor Michaelis: Smallpox vaccines provide a reasonable level of protection (about 85%) against monkeypox. Even if the smallpox vaccine is given up to four days after infection, it can still be expected to prevent the disease. If the smallpox vaccine is given later than this but before symptoms appear, it can still be expected to reduce the severity of the disease.

There is also an antiviral drug called tecovirimat that has been approved to treat smallpox in the United States and is also expected to be effective against monkeypox. Other antiviral drugs that have been shown to suppress monkeypox in animal models include cidofovir and brindifovir. However, clinical studies will be needed to find out how effective these drugs actually are against monkeypox in humans.

7. How can you avoid getting it?

Dr. Skinner: Medical staff will use personal protective equipment. The vast majority of us will not be in close contact with infected individuals.

Professor Michaelis: Monkeypox is not as contagious as airborne diseases such as measles or COVID-19.

Body contact or contact with bodily fluids or lesions is usually required to develop an infection.

Aerosol transmission has not been described, but people may get larger droplets if a monkeypox patient coughs or sneezes directly on them.

Contact with the clothing or bedding of monkeypox patients can transmit the disease.

In general, the risk of infection via contaminated surfaces, such as door handles, appears to be higher for monkeypox than, for example, for Covid-19. Hence, thorough hygiene measures and hand washing as well as avoidance of close contact with potential monkeypox patients should usually be sufficient to prevent infection.

8. Is it worse in children?

Dr. Skinner: Experience in Africa suggests that it can be more severe in children. It also poses an increased risk for those who are immunosuppressed.

Professor Michaelis: Yes, children and pregnant women are more likely to get monkeypox than adults.

9. How did the current outbreak start and spread?

Dr. Skinner: We have had sporadic, international, travel-related cases since the apparent increase in numbers in West Africa in 2017.

The first cases this year appear to be the same, but the last cases, here and abroad, fall into clusters – a pair linked epidemiologically in the UK – without a history of travel to West Africa.

They appear to be related in having extensive, close, and intimate networking contacts, in this case by being members of the MSM community.

Public health officials are looking for links between groups, both nationally and internationally, as well as to previous cases which we hope are indicative, although they are assumed to be of West African origin, they may represent multiple precursors.

Professor Michaelis: This is not entirely clear. The monkeypox strain causing the current outbreak is derived from West Africa, and it seems likely that all cases are again linked to a single case. It is not clear how the virus then spread around the world.

10. How can the outbreak be stopped?

Dr. Skinner: Contact tracing by public health authorities after immediate identification, isolation and confirmation of potential and potential cases, and the vigilance of potential contacts and the readiness of cases to contact the authorities if symptoms appear.

2022-06-02 04:08:38

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.