Understand what monkeypox is and how to protect it

Monkey pox causes minor skin lesions.

Monkey pox causes minor skin lesions. (Photo: CDC / BRIAN WJ MAHY)

BRAZIL – Trauma caused by a pandemic itself is worrying many people when they first see undetected alerts about the onset of a disease. This is due to the fact that humans were infected with the so-called monkeypox, a disease that is endemic in African countries, but its spread to non-endemic countries, such as Europe and the United States, has caused concern. To date, there are more than 200 cases that have been confirmed or suspected in the 20 countries where the virus was not previously circulated.

Faced with this situation, the report consulted sources and experts to clear up any doubts about what monkeypox is, as well as its symptoms, risks, forms of contamination and the history of this disease, which has recently caused so much concern among people.

André Bon, a specialist in infectious diseases at the University Hospital of Brasilia (UnB), calms those who are most concerned. “Rarely, this disease is serious. The greatest severity was seen in cases of outbreaks in Africa, where the population had a very high percentage of sick food and a very large population with uncontrolled HIV, ”explained the specialist.

According to him, there was an outbreak of the disease in the United States in the early 2000s. “The death toll was zero, and it shows that perhaps with proper care, early identification and proper management in a healthy population, we won’t have much of an impact on the severity.”

The group most at risk is children. When the infection affects pregnant women, there is an increased risk of complications, including birth defects or even the death of the baby.

A publication in the Butantan Institute helps to clarify and determine what a monkey is. According to the material, the monkey tail is a “syllabic zoonosis” and, although it occurs in forests in Africa in general, it is said to occur in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and, more recently, the United States.

History and events

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys stored for research. The first human case of this variant was recorded in the Congo in 1970. Later, it occurred in humans in other countries in Central and West Africa.

“Monkeypox was re-established in Nigeria in 2017 without reporting more than 40 years. Since then, there have been more than 450 cases in the African country and at least eight cases have been exported internationally.

According to the institute, between 2018 and 2021, seven cases of monkey were reported in the UK, mostly in people who have traveled to endemic countries. “But this year alone, nine cases have already been confirmed, six of which have nothing to do with the trip.”

recent cases

Portugal has confirmed more than 20 cases, while Spain has confirmed at least 30. There have also been at least one confirmed case in the United States, Canada, Germany, Belgium, France and Australia, according to the press and local governments, they reported. By the hand of Butantan.

“In this possible 2022 outbreak, the first case in England has been identified in a man who developed skin lesions on 5 May, was admitted to a London hospital and then taken to a specialist infectious disease center until the throat of the monkey was repaired. It was confirmed on 12 May. he had the same skin lesions, and the disease was confirmed on May 13, ”Butantan reported.

On 15 May the British Government confirmed four more cases, and on the 18th two other cases were reported; none of them were in contact with the people who traveled or were traveling, and indicated the possible transmission of the community. illness.

two types

According to the institute, a virus that infects monkeys causes this type of smallpox, but it can also infect humans. “There are two types of monkey viruses: West African and Congolese (Central African). Although West African monkey virus infection can sometimes cause a serious illness, the disease is usually self-limiting (does not require treatment), ”the institute explained.

André Bon describes this smallpox as a “passionate disease” that occurs as a human smallpox. “The patient may have a fever, body aches and, later in the day, stains and papules. [pequenas lesões sólidas que aparecem na pele] which become vesicles [bolha contendo líquido no interior] until pustules form [bolinhas com pus] and mediocre [formação a partir de líquido seroso, pus ou sangue seco]”.

According to Butantan, headaches, muscle aches and back pain are also common. Initially, skin lesions develop on the face and then spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals. “They look like chicken or syphilis lesions, until they form a crust and then fall off,” he explains. Mild cases can go unnoticed and can be transmitted from person to person.

Transmission and prevention

Butantan has been reported to be in contact with droplets inhaled by an infected person (human or animal) or with skin lesions or contaminated materials such as clothing and bedding, such as clothing and bedding, Butantan said. One measure to prevent exposure to the virus is hand hygiene with soap and water or an alcoholic gel.

The HUB’s infectious disease specialist says the main way to prevent this disease – although it still has “few cases in the world” and “no fanfare”, is in the hands of health authorities. “They need to be alert to identify cases, isolate cases and track contacts,” he said.

“Of course, the use of masks, as we are doing because of covid-19, is a transient respiratory disease of the drops and the most important thing in this context is to avoid contact with infected lesions,” Bon points out, explaining that it is a monkey pox. less transmissible than the regular version.

Butantan stresses the need to avoid contact with sick animals (living or dead) that can be transmitted by monkeys (rodents, marsupials and primates) from endemic countries. They also “refuse to eat or hunt wild game.”

The incubation period for the monkey is usually between six and 13 days, but can range from five to 21 days, according to a report by Butantan. Therefore, infected people should be isolated and observed for 21 days.


André Bon explains that smallpox vaccines also protect against monkeys. However, he noted that there are no vaccines on the market at this time.

“If necessary, only the tensions that can be played back are saved. It is important to remember that in the past, the vaccine was not used in the world. The methodology was a little older and outdated. We now have a more technological and safe way to get vaccinated, if necessary, ”said the infectious disease doctor.

Bon dismisses the immediate need for the vaccine at this time, as there is no case to justify it in a hurry. “Now the most important thing is to look at the alleged cases,” he said.

Butantan confirms that the monkey vaccine has been shown to be quite effective. “Although a vaccine against measles (MVA-BN) and a specific treatment (tecovirimat) have been approved, in 2019 and 2022, respectively, these countermeasures are not yet widely available.”

“People around the world in their 40s or 50s are no longer vaccinated, the vaccine was backed by previous smallpox vaccination programs because these campaigns have been canceled,” the institute said.

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