Since May 2022, outbreaks of monkeypox have appeared in several countries where the infection had not previously been observed.
This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
According to the WHO, until July 23 more than 16,000 cases have been reported in 75 countries and five people died from the infection.
Monkeypox is caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox, although it is much less serious and experts say your risk of infection is low.
So far, efforts to contain the spread of the disease have focused on isolating and treating cases and tracing contacts.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines for monkeypox virus infections.
But because monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, several countries use antiviral drugs and vaccines that were developed to protect against smallpox.
As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) points out, “When given appropriately before or after recent exposure (to the virus), vaccines can be effective tools in protecting people against monkeypox disease”.
In the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and other countries The JYNNEOS vaccine has been approved for use (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex), for monkeypox infection.
It is a vaccine developed for protection against smallpox in persons over 18 years of age.
This vaccine contains a modified live form of the smallpox virus called modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA).
Another monkeypox vaccine, ACAM2000, a “second generation” vaccine developed for smallpox, has also been approved for use in the United States.
But, according to the CDC, it shouldn’t be used in people with certain health conditions, such as a weakened immune system, skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis/eczema, or pregnancy.
The CDC stresses, however, that “no data is yet available on the effectiveness of these two vaccines in the current epidemic” of monkeypox.
Currently, however, there is a limited supply from JYNNEOS and in several countries, it is only offered to certain high-risk close contacts of infected people.
The WHO notes that some people who have received smallpox vaccines may also have some levels of immunity, although in many countries this vaccination was suspended nearly 40 years ago when the disease was considered eradicated. .
They don’t exist eitherspecific treatments for infections by monkeypox virus.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) says “illness is usually mild and the majority of those infected recover within weeks without treatment”.
Still, there may be more severe cases requiring hospitalization. And the risk may be higher for older people, young children, and people taking medications that affect their immune system.
For cases requiring treatment, the CDC says that, like vaccines, antiviral drugs developed to protect against smallpox can be used to prevent and treat infections with the monkeypox virus.
“Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to become seriously ill, such as patients with weakened immune systems,” the CDC says.
They add that “if you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should tell your health care provider, even if you don’t think you have been in contact with someone with monkeypox.”
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