Smallpox (Monkeypox) is a rare viral disease that was rarely detected outside of Africa until recent reports; Unfortunately, over the past week, the disease has been reported in at least 11 non-African countries (more than 120 confirmed or suspected). Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been studying monkey pox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than a decade, is thought-provoking; He admits that seeing such a trend in the spread of the disease opens the eyes to the facts!

What is monkey pox and should we be concerned about its prevalence?

This virus is called monkey pox because it was first identified in 1958 by researchers in laboratory monkeys. The virus is generally thought to be transmitted from wild animals such as rodents to humans and from infected people to others. It is interesting to note that in the past year, on average, several thousand cases of this type of smallpox have occurred in Africa (especially in the western and central parts of the continent). However, outbreaks of the virus outside Africa were limited to a handful associated with travel to Africa or the importation of infected animals. It has increased dramatically outside the African continent. The number of cases of smallpox in monkeys (outside the African continent) has even exceeded since 1970, when the virus was first identified as the causative agent of the disease in humans. So this rapid spread has put scientists on alert.

It is a matter of concern that cases of monkey pox outside the African continent, even since the virus was first identified as the cause of the disease in humans, It has gone even further.

What are the symptoms of monkey pox and how does it spread?

Unlike diseases such as SARS or Covid 19 (SARS-CoV-2) that propagate through airborne droplets called aerosols; The smallpox virus is thought to be spread through close contact with body fluids, such as a patient's saliva (for example, from a cough). This means that an infected person may need closer contacts to spread the disease to others. The difference is that in the face of monkey pox, the lymph nodes become swollen and eventually become associated with certain fluid-filled skin lesions on the face, arms, and legs. Of course, it should be noted that most people recover in just a few weeks (without special treatment).

The main symptoms of this disease are swollen lymph nodes and the appearance of juicy skin lesions on the body!

Does the monkey pox virus drive us into home quarantine?

What researchers have learned from the initial genetic data of the monkey pox virus is that it is found mainly in West Africa and is a mild form of the virus. , Has a lower mortality rate than those circulating in Central Africa. In fact, this figure is less than 1% in West Africa in poor and rural areas. But exactly how much of the current prevalence (in other countries) differs from that of West Africa, and whether the viruses that appear in different countries are related to each other, remains unclear. The field acknowledges that the answer to these questions could determine whether the sudden increase in cases seen outside the African continent is due to a mutation in the smallpox virus (allowing it to spread faster than ever before) or that the disease is spreading to different parts of the country. Returns to a single source, help.

Deeply worrying!

However, diagnosing the disease in people who seem to have no close relationship with each other indicates that the virus, It is probably expanding silently. The fact that Andrea McCollum, an epidemiologist who also heads the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, calls it "deeply troubling." Unlike the SARS and Covid viruses, which Spread, without any particular symptoms, the smallpox virus usually goes unnoticed when a person becomes ill because of the skin lesions it causes. So McCollum acknowledges that if the virus could spread asymptomatically, it would be very worrying, as it would be very difficult to detect the virus!

Another puzzle that is interesting about the spread of this virus is that almost everyone The group of people with monkey pox includes men in their 20s and 50s, many of whom are gay, bisexual or GBMSM! In this regard, it is important to know that although monkey pox is not sexually transmitted, sexual activity is certainly considered close contact. The most likely explanation for this unexpected transmission pattern is that monkey pox entered the GBMSM community by accident and the virus continued to circulate there.

monkey pox virus control strategies

. When smallpox was no longer a threat to humanity thanks to global vaccinations, public health officials recommended that monkeypox should also be investigated and stopped. Since then, the disease has been associated with humanity. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, has been grappling with it for decades, and Nigeria has had a widespread outbreak since 2017 (when it first reported it) with about 500 suspected cases and more than 200 confirmed cases.

On the other hand, it is important to know that the United States also reported the outbreak of monkey pox in 2003! The report came as a consignment of rodents from Ghana transmitted the virus to domestic dogs in Illinois, infecting more than 70 people.

Despite all that has been said, you should know that Public health officials are not immune to smallpox. For example, as a precautionary measure, countries like the United States have decided to maintain a consignment of smallpox vaccines, as well as use an antiviral treatment to fight the monkeypox virus. However, you should be aware that these treatments may not work on a large scale.

Treatment staff may also use a method called "Ring Vaccination" to prevent the spread of the disease. In this way, people who have close contact with people with monkey pox are vaccinated to cut off transmission routes. It should be noted that, based on available data and statistics, the prevalence of such diseases is unlikely to require inhibitory strategies beyond ring vaccination. Because you have to remember that even in areas where monkey pox is reported every day, it is a relatively rare infection!

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