Monkey pox: symptoms, vaccination, transmission… 7 points to understand this disease that is gaining ground

France has recorded a total of 2,171 declared cases of monkeypox, announced this Tuesday, August 2 at the National Assembly the Minister of Health, François Braun, during questions to the government.

Concern around Monkeypox is growing even as the disease gains ground in the country. France now has more than 2,000 cases of monkeypox, according to the latest report from Public Health France on Tuesday.

In addition, the first deaths of people infected with the virus outside areas where it was already endemic have occurred. Deaths which are expected to increase, according to the European Office of the WHO. Update on what we know about the virus.

What is the mode of transmission?

Monkeypox virus can be transmitted by direct contact with skin lesions or mucous membranes of a sick person, as well as by droplets (saliva, sneezing, sputters, etc.). The sex, with or without penetration, meet these conditions for contamination, and having several partners increases the risk of being exposed to the virus. In particular, direct contact with damaged skin during sexual intercourse facilitates transmission.

Contamination can also occur through contact with the patient’s environment (bedding, clothing, dishes, bath linen, etc.). It is therefore important that the patients observe isolation throughout the duration of the disease (until the disappearance of the last scabs, most often 3 weeks).

In Central or West Africa, humans can also become infected through contact with animals, wild or in captivity, dead or alive, such as rodents or monkeys, details French Public Health.

What are the symptoms ?

Fever, headache, chills, fatigueswollen lymph nodes, back pain and muscle aches are the main symptoms, says Health Insurance.

Infection with monkeypox virus can also cause eruption vesicular, made up of vesicles filled with liquid which evolve towards drying out, the formation of scabs and then scarring. Of the itching can occur.

The vesicles are more concentrated on the face, in the ano-genital area, the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, can be present but also on the trunk and the limbs. The mucous membranes are also affected, in the mouth and the genital area.

How long does the disease last?

The incubation of the disease can range from 5 to 21 days. The fever phase lasts about 1 to 3 days. The disease most often heals spontaneously, after 2 to 3 weeks but sometimes 4 weeks.

Is it a serious illness?

Most cases of monkeypox are mild, but the virus can become serious for young children, pregnant women and immunocompromised people, the ECDC points out. Severe cases are also linked to the extent of exposure to the virus, the patient’s medical condition and the severity of complications, reports in particular. France Blue.

How to get tested?

In a press release, the High Authority for Health requests the reimbursement of tests to detect infection by the Monkeypox virus. She recalls an important thing, unlike Covid-19, “the diagnosis of infection by the Monkeypox virus is based in first intention on the clinical examination and the questioning of the patient”.

As the HAS explains, it is only after this clinical examination carried out by a doctor, who comes if necessary to confirm or not a “suspicious case”, that the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) intervenes.

It “only makes sense in a context of confirmation and is not not useful in the absence of symptoms“, specifies the HAS in its opinion. Being carried out in the laboratory, the NAAT consists of mucosal samples, skin samples, and samples from the oropharyngeal sphere, including a PCR test.

These are powerful molecular tests for detecting microorganisms and diagnosing the infections they cause.

The HAS emphasizes the need to report the results of these tests as quickly as possible, since they impact in particular the maintenance or lifting of isolation. Monkeypox is a notifiable disease. As soon as a case is identified, doctors must notify the health authorities. Positive people should self-isolate for at least 3 weeks.

How to get vaccinated against monkeypox?

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends vaccinating preventively:

  • men who have sex with men and multipartner trans people;
  • professionals working in places of sexual consumption;
  • people in prostitution.

Preventive vaccination for health professionals who have not been in contact with a patient is not currently recommended, but can be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on exposure, the existence of risk factors individuals or at their request, according to HAS.

You can find the places of vaccination, depending on your location, on the website and on the websites of the regional health agencies.

What are the recommendations to follow?

The WHO has advised the group most affected by the disease – men who have sex with men – to reduce the number of sexual partners. Condoms alone cannot provide complete protection against transmission of the virus.

Infected people “must stay in isolation until the scabs fall off,” says the ECDC. Patients should avoid close contact with immunocompromised people, pregnant women, young children or pets. It is also advised to abstain from sexual activity and close physical contact until the rash heals.

Items used by patients, such as clothing, bedding, towels or kitchen utensils should not be shared with other people. Caregivers and relatives should avoid touching skin lesions with bare hands, wear disposable gloves and observe strict hand hygiene.

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