London gives the smallpox vaccine to at-risk contacts. Portugal with an active outbreak of Monkeypox

There’s one more virus you haven’t heard of in Europe that’s issuing warnings. The United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain confirm that cases of “monkeypox”, in Portuguese, monkeypox, a milder form of smallpox eradicated in the 1980s, are being diagnosed. The disease caused by an isolated virus first in the Democratic Republic of the Congo it appeared sporadically in Europe and the United States, associated with travel to the African continent, but now the fear is that there is transmission in Europe.

In Spain and England, authorities have confirmed that most cases have been detected in men who have sex with men, and in Portugal, the DGS said all of those infected are young men. Yesterday, Margarida Tavares, director of the National Sexually Transmitted Infections Program, said that already more than 20 suspected cases, of which 14 have been confirmed, have been detected in a clinic for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, in men aged 20 to 50 years. .

Some are men who have gay sex, the official also confirmed, but not all cases are, and that has been the warning of experts speaking out in recent days in the UK. They consider that there are no reasons for the moment to think of an evolution towards a sexually transmitted disease, which is not described in this virus, also underlined Margarida Tavares. Contagion occurs through direct contact with respiratory fluids and droplets, so close contact with an infected person will be conducive to it, whether sexual in nature or not.

In the UK, where the first case was reported on May 7 in a person who had recently traveled from Nigeria, however, alerts are directed directly at the men who have sex with men community. Since most of the patients were gay or bisexual men, transmission is thought to have started in this circle, but belief is growing that it may be more widespread in the community.

Yesterday two more cases were confirmed in the country bringing the total to nine and they are not linked to each other. “The latest confirmed cases, together with case reports from other countries in Europe, confirm our initial fears that there could be a spread of monkeypox in our communities,” said Susan Hopkins, of the UK Agency. of health security. .

According to Mail Online, the strategy to contain the outbreak is to offer high-risk contacts an “off-label” smallpox vaccine, as the drug has no indication for monkeypox virus, but it is thought that, being the viruses of same family, it can have a protective effect. In question, the Imvanex vaccine, approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2013, but which ended up not being used. In Portugal, according to oi, this hypothesis is also on the table.

What disease is it? It is a zoonotic disease, when animals are vectors of viruses and parasites for humans, identified for the first time in the 1950s in monkeys.

The first epidemics were reported in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Besides transmission through direct contact with infected animals, transmission between humans is known. In 2003, the first outbreak was detected in the United States linked to a store that imported animals from Ghana. This year’s outbreaks appear to be the first human-to-human infections in Europe, but epidemiological links have yet to be determined, so authorities accept there will be internal circulation of the virus and not just the so-called imported cases.

Watch out for symptoms According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, the virus enters the body through damage to the skin, respiratory tract or mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth).

Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory secretions, i.e. prolonged talking very close to another person’s face or coughing or sneezing, as symptoms of this infection include the syndrome flu-like.

But the most characteristic are really rashes and vesicles spread all over the body, small balls. The infection also causes fever, headache and muscle aches, swollen glands and fatigue. In a statement, the Directorate General of Health asked those with these symptoms to consult a doctor, stressing that in the event of suspicious symptoms, direct physical contact should be avoided.

There is no specific treatment for the disease, which usually clears up in two to four weeks. According to the latest studies, the fatality rate has varied in the past between 1% and 10%. In Portugal, revealed Margarida Tavares, the cases detected are light.

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