A new disease has been worrying international health authorities since the beginning of May: monkey pox (monkeypox in English). In less than two weeks, seventeen cases were confirmed by PCR, out of fifty reports, the patients presenting with rashes that could be reminiscent of chickenpox or syphilis. In France, a first suspected case was reported in Ile-de-France, announced the general direction of health to health professionals, Thursday, May 19. To help them, Public Health France has developed a case definition and guidelines for contact tracing.
So far, nine cases have been confirmed in the United Kingdom, five in Portugal, in the Lisbon region, where around fifteen others are still being examined, only one case for the moment has been identified in Stockholm , in Sweden, as well as in Italy, and twenty-three suspected cases have been reported in the region of Madrid, in Spain. Across the Atlantic, a case has also been confirmed in Massachusetts in a person who often travels to Canada, where a dozen cases are being examined. No link has yet been established with reports in Europe.
These contaminations by monkey pox outside the African continent, where certain countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Nigeria have regularly been the scene of epidemics since the 1970s, are not unprecedented, but their dissemination to across different countries is intriguing. In the UK, the first case was identified in a person returning from Nigeria. “What is unusual and justifies the particular vigilance of the health authorities is the human-to-human transmission at the origin of certain casesnotes Eric D’Ortenzio, doctor and epidemiologist at the National Agency for Research on AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Since 2018, several cases have been imported from Nigeria to the UK, without resulting in community transmission. »
British health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) are interested in the fact that several cases have been reported “in sexual health ward patients with vesicular eruption disease and among homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men”, according to the WHO press release. Studies have shown that human-to-human transmission of monkeypox, usually limited, is possible through droplets emitted by speaking and spitting, but also through direct contact with fluids oozing from rashes or indirectly through contact with infected objects. . On the other hand, sexual transmission is still very little documented, even if it is made possible by the vesicles also developing on the mucous membranes.
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