How is monkeypox spread? Epidemiologists respond in a guide

How is monkeypox spread? Combating ignorance of this disease and facilitating its prevention are the objectives of the guide published by the Spanish Society of Epidemiology.

Monkeypox is not easily transmitted between humans: infection occurs through close contact with infected skin, body fluids, or respiratory droplets from an infected person with whom you have sex.

This is one of the answers that can be found in the guide that epidemiologists have produced to explain what monkeypox is, when the first cases were reported or even what is the most appropriate vaccination schedule depending on of the level of exposure.

The origin of the disease

The document begins by explaining what exactly monkeypox is and how it differs from the smallpox virus which was already eradicated in the 1980s.

It is a different virus from smallpox and it is transmitted outside its usual endemic zone (Central and West Africa), so it is necessary to exercise strict epidemiological control over it.

The SEE offers a series of basic tips to avoid the disease. Besides sexual contact, it can also be contracted in other situations of continuous and prolonged physical contact, and also by contact with contaminated objects such as bedding, dressings, dishes…

A person is considered contagious from the onset of enanthema – lesions of the oral mucosa – until the lesions heal and a new layer of skin forms.

The period of isolation

For this reason, infected people should remain isolated until all skin lesions have healed, and above all avoid close contact with immunocompromised people.

The incubation period can range from 5 to 21 days and the clinical picture usually begins with a combination of symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, characteristic skin lesions and swollen glands.

Regarding its severity, epidemiologists point out that the cases of the current epidemic are milder than those described in West Africa, and that they hardly generate hospitalizations. However, remember, lesions on the skin and mucous membranes are very troublesome.

vaccination strategy

The smallpox vaccine can protect people against monkeypox due to the similarity of the two viruses. In addition, antibodies produced against the smallpox virus also protect against monkeypox. In Spain, smallpox was vaccinated until 1979 and administered at the age of 20 months.

In 2013, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorized the Imvanex vaccine for the prevention of smallpox in adults. He is currently reviewing studies to expand the use of the monkeypox vaccine.

Who should be vaccinated

The World Health Organization and other international agencies recommend pre-exposure vaccination for healthcare personnel at high risk of exposure, laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses, and laboratory personnel performing diagnostic tests for monkeypox .

Members of the outbreak response team who may be designated by national public health authorities and close contacts of confirmed cases should also be vaccinated.

Pre-exposure vaccination is recommended for people under the age of 45 who engage in high-risk sexual practices and for healthcare personnel caring for people with high-risk practices and laboratory personnel who handle potentially contaminated samples.

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