An alarming international outbreak of monkeypox, a less harmful relative of the smallpox virus, has reached the United States and Canada. As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and another 28 suspects had been reported in 12 countries. World Health Organization.

The United States is currently investigating 1 to 5 confirmed cases, the WHO said.

Smallpox was first observed in the UK, Portugal, Spain and other parts of Europe in early May. On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitored six people in the United States for possible infection. They were sitting next to one infected traveler on a flight from Nigeria to the United Kingdom in early May.

CDC officials are also investigating the confirmed case smallpox monkeys a man from Massachusetts who recently traveled to Canada, reports CNN. A New York Department of Health is investigating a possible infection in a patient at Bellevue Hospital.

Despite all these recent infections in areas where the virus is rare, and new ones are concerned about this the disease can spread through sexual contact, health experts warn against overreaction. Unlike new diseases such as COVID-19, monkeypox is well known and effective treatments are available.

“No one should panic,” said Anne Rimouine, Department of Infectious Diseases and public health at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Monkeypox is a known virus that is being introduced into a new population.”

The disease begins with fever, swollen lymph nodes and other flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash on the face that spreads to other areas including the genitals, arms and legs.

Possibility of sexual transmission

The symptoms are similar to the symptoms of smallpox, but are milder, Riemann said.

“It can take a few weeks and people can feel pretty bad,” she said. However, effective treatments are available.

Smallpox mainly affects monkeys animals to humans-and less often from person to person, because close contact with body fluids is needed, added Hannah Newman, director of epidemiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Anyone experiencing an unusual rash or lesion and who has risk factors [or had sexual encounters with someone who has] we need to seek help immediately, ”she said.

Many of the new cases around the world have occurred among gays and bisexuals.

On Monday, Enrique Ruiz Escudera, a senior health official in the Spanish capital Madrid, said 30 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in the city so far. He said authorities were investigating possible links between the recent gay pride in the Canary Islands, which gathered about 80,000 people, and cases in a Madrid sauna.

According to Newman, “it looks like there may be a component of sexual transmission current outbreakwhich we have not seen in previous outbreaks. ”she noted.

However, “it seems to me that this is a virus that we understand we have a vaccine against it, we have a treatment, and it spreads quite differently than SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19)” , – Dr. Ashish This was announced by the White House Response Coordinator for COVID-19 ABC News on Sunday.

“It’s not as contagious as COVID. So I’m sure we can hold it in our hands,” Ja said. “But we will be very careful to monitor this and use the tools we have to make sure we can continue to prevent further spread and take care of people who become infected.”

New questions

Risk factors for past outbreaks included contact with live or dead animals and consumption of game or wildlife meat, Newman said.

Once the virus jumps from animal to human, human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with respiratory drops. bodily fluids or skin lesions.

In Africa, the virus kills 1% to 15% of people with monkeypox. “Severe illness and [death] higher among children, young people and people with weakened immune systems, ”Newman said.

The virus was first discovered in 1958, when monkeys had two outbreaks of smallpox-like disease. The first known case of a man occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and since then it has been reported in other Central and West African countries, according to the CDC.

Although it does not occur naturally in the United States, this is not the first time monkeypox has been observed in the country. In 2003, an outbreak was linked to infected meadow dogs imported as pets.

Many questions remain about the new outbreak.

“We need to keep an eye on this and understand how it behaves and how it has been introduced into the new population,” Rimouine said.

This outbreak appears to be related to a West African strain of smallpox, which, according to Rimoine, is less transmitted and tends to cause milder symptoms than the Central African strain.

“Once these details become available, we will learn much more,” she said.

She added that the flash was not entirely surprising. In recent years, cases of Fr. once eradicated smallpox the virus also appeared.

“It’s not surprising that as a result we see other poxviruses in the world,” Rimouine said.

Vaccines are already here

Fortunately, the smallpox vaccine can protect people from monkeypox.

In fact, the U.S. government has already placed a $ 119 million vaccine order with the possibility of more. The British health authorities are offering smallpox vaccinations to some health professionals and others who may have been exposed to monkeypox.

The good news is that outbreaks of monkeypox are rare and usually short-lived, Newman said.

USA 2003 flashfor example, it was quickly curtailed through extensive testing, vaccine deployment, and smallpox treatments, as well as recommendations for patients, health care professionals, veterinarians, and other animal workers.

“All 47 people were cured, and none of the 47 cases transmitted the disease to another person,” she said.

Cases of monkeypox have previously been observed only among people with ties to Central and West Africa, according to Associated Press. But last week the United States was among seven countries where infections were reported, mostly among young people who had not previously traveled to Africa.

France, Germany, Belgium and Australia confirmed their first cases on Friday AP reported.

“I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and more and more countries are infected,” said virologist Oevale Tomori, who is a member of several advisory boards of the World Health Organization.

“It’s not the kind of proliferation we’ve seen in West Africa, so something new could happen in the West,” he said. AP.

In Portugal, 5 cases of monkeypox in men were detected as the outbreak spread

Additional information:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more smallpox monkeys.

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