After more than 1,600 cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with experts to adopt a new name for the monkey, a viral infection that has spread to more than 30 countries, including Brazil.
The initiative comes after more than 30 scientists wrote last week an “urgent need that is non-discriminatory and stigmatizing (the name of the disease and the virus).”
He suggested the name HMPXV to the research team, as there are also several misleading and discriminatory references to say that the virus is African.
The disease has killed 72 people in countries considered endemic (permanently present in a region, with constant numbers for several years), such as in forested areas of Central and West Africa.
In the dense forested Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 1,200 cases have been reported this year alone and 57 deaths have been recorded (as of May 1, 2022), according to the WHO.
But so far it is not in the last 32 countries affected by the disease, such as Brazil (2 cases) and the United Kingdom (470 cases).
Transmission mainly occurs when someone has a close relationship with an infected person. The virus can be spread through skin lesions, respiratory tract or eyes, nose and mouth. After infection, it usually takes 5 to 21 days for symptoms to appear, which are usually mild and last about three weeks.
Public health emergency?
Along with the spread of the disease, the WHO will also discuss this month whether to classify it as an “international public health emergency,” as happened with H1N1 (2009), polio (2014), zika (2016), Ebola. (2019) and Covid (January 2020).
“The monkey epidemic is unusual and worrying. (…) That is why I have decided to convene an emergency committee on international health regulations next week to decide whether it is a public health emergency that is really worrying. At the international level,” the WHO said. chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
If this emergency is declared, what changes in practice?
The WHO officially defines a state of emergency as “an unusual event that poses a risk to public health for other states as a result of the international spread of the disease and potentially requires a coordinated international response.”
In the case of Covid-19, it is recommended that health authorities around the world increase their follow-up of the disease and, in the end, be prepared to take measures to contain it.
What is the virus going on now?
The Monkeypox virus belongs to the same family as the common smallpox, but is less severe and widespread, so it is considered a small chance of infecting large populations.
The virus was first identified in a captive monkey in the 1970s, and since then there have been occasional outbreaks in Central and West African countries.
As early as 2003, 81 cases were reported in the United States, the first time the virus had been seen outside Africa, but no deaths were reported.
The highest incidence ever recorded was in 2017 in Nigeria, with 172 suspected cases.
It is currently unclear why monkeypox is widespread in Europe, North America, and Australia.
One possibility is that the virus has changed in some way, but so far no new variant is in circulation.
Another possibility is that the reduction in vaccine coverage against smallpox (which has been considered extinct in the world since the 1980s) has led to good conditions for the spread of the virus more than ever before.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said he was concerned about the chances of the virus advancing during the summer months on the continent, when there are more parties and agglomerations.
Peter Horby, director of the Pandemic Science Institute at Oxford University, told BBC Radio 4 that “an unusual situation is underway where the virus appears to have spread (from abroad) but is now being transmitted in certain communities”.
The main message, Horby said, is that people with symptoms should “seek help, make a diagnosis and then isolate themselves.”
Monkeypox is a mild disease, according to the WHO, but serious cases can occur. In recent times, the death rate has been between 3% and 6%, but the explanation for this figure is complex.
“Sometimes you see a death rate of 10%, but it’s hard to understand these cases because many of them are related to being in low-resource areas where they may not have access to care,” said infectious disease experts and. Pandemic Training Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins University Health Security Center.
There are two variants of the disease, known as West Africa and Central Africa; the appearance of the present monkey has been associated with the former.
“The good news is that this version of the West African monkey virus is more serious than the Central African virus. So the good news is that fewer people are expected to develop serious illnesses with this variant,” he told the BBC. Bennett, epidemiologist at Deakin University in Melbourne.
How is the monkey transmitted?
Monkeypox is spread when someone has a close relationship with an infected person. The virus can be spread through skin lesions, respiratory tract or eyes, nose and mouth.
It is not so easy to spread the disease, but it can be transmitted in the following ways:
– Touching clothes, sheets and towels used by someone with a skin lesion caused by the disease;
– Touching the blisters or spills on the skin of people with these injuries;
– Coughing or sneezing of monkey people.
To date, the virus has not been described as a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be transmitted during sexual intercourse thanks to the closeness between the people involved.
And recent cases in the UK have been seen in gay or bisexual men, which has prompted the UK Health Safety Agency to call for attention to itching or skin lesions that men find unusual.
If they have any symptoms or concerns, they are advised to contact their local sexual health services. But officials say anyone can be infected, regardless of sexual orientation.
Infected animals such as monkeys, mice and squirrels can also transmit the virus.
What are the main symptoms?
After infection, it usually takes 5 to 21 days for the first symptoms to appear.
These symptoms include fever, headache, back or muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue.
And it can cause itching in the process, usually starting in the face and then spreading to other parts of the body, especially the hands and soles of the feet.
Itching, which is often irritating and painful, changes and goes through different stages — like varicose veins — before it forms an indent, and then falls off.
The infection usually clears up within 14 to 21 days.
In the UK, so far most infections are mild. But the disease can take more serious forms, especially in young children, pregnant women, and people with fragile immune systems. In West Africa, there have already been cases of deaths from the disease.
What is the treatment?
The best way to prevent this is to be vaccinated: the smallpox vaccine is able to prevent most cases of monkeys.
Antiviral drugs can also help.
Generally, in mild cases, the infection passes on its own.
– This text was originally published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-61808537