This is the new virus we now hear about: monkey pox. Originally from Africa, this infection, which the English call “MonkeyPox”, is said to be spreading in Europe and North America. A dozen cases have been detected in the United Kingdom. In Spain and Portugal, around 40 patients have been identified and a national health alert has been triggered. In Canada, a dozen cases were under review this week.
In France, a first case was identified in a 29-year-old man, in Ile-de-France, Thursday May 19. Should we be worried though?
Monkeypox, or monkeypox, is an infection that is transmitted to humans from certain animals, primates or rodents.
But the virus is also transmitted from human to human, generally via the particles of respiratory droplets, during prolonged contact, according to the WHO, which specifies that monkeypox remains not very contagious between men. “The spread can take place from one person to another, but always on the condition of contact. During an exchange of body fluid or the sharing of clothes or a bed,” explains Steve Ahuka, head of the virology department at the National Institute for Biomedical Research of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the newspaper Le Point.
Monkeypox was first identified in 1958, in monkeys at a pet store in Copenhagen. The first human infection dates back to 1970, and involved a child in the Central African Republic.
“The majority of patients were contaminated by an animal, a rodent, a monkey during a bite or contact with a wound. Remote transmission such as that of Sars-CoV-2 does not occur, ”continues Dr. Steve Ahuka in the columns of Point.
Monkey pox: symptoms
The incubation time for monkeypox can range from five to twenty-one days. The disease is manifested by the following symptoms:
These symptoms are therefore more or less those of the flu. With the exception that, two days after the peak of fever, patients may have a blistering rash on the skin, resulting in small skin peelings containing fluid.
However, laboratory testing is necessary to definitively diagnose the infection.
If the symptoms, just like the name “smallpox” can be scary, this infection should not be confused with its namesake, the historic smallpox, whose mortality rate climbed to 30% and which was eradicated in the 1970s.
For monkeypox, “We have to do with a strain that is more around 1%, a strain that comes from Nigeria. It gives little chance of a global epidemic, but let’s be careful with viruses. “, explains Damien Mascret, doctor and journalist, on the set of France 2.
The virus is mainly present in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly 3,000 cases have been identified over the past five years.
As for the French patient, he was isolated at his home. His condition is not worrying. The authorities are trying to identify people who have been in contact with him, to limit the spread of the virus. Specialists will also try to find out how the young Frenchman could have caught the virus, because he has never traveled to Africa.
Even if, for the moment, the data are not worrying, virologists in France are alert and ready to react if the epidemic were to spread further.
“This virus originating in Africa has been one of our priority targets for several years. We already have ready-to-use screening tests and we are ready to sequence this virus”, explains Jessica Vanhomwegen, member of the Biological Emergency Response Unit (CIBU) at the Institut Pasteur, to the newspaper Le Point.
Currently, however, there is no vaccine or medicine for monkeypox. But the vaccine against smallpox would be effective, according to the Pasteur Institute, at 85% against the infection.
Finally, although monkeypox is not very contagious between humans, it is a reportable infection. It is therefore necessary, in the event of the appearance of symptoms, to alert the SAMU, and to isolate oneself while awaiting medical advice or a diagnosis.
Healing usually occurs after two to three weeks.