What symptoms does monkeypox cause, how is it spread and what do we know about it?

(CNN) — The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the so-called “monkey pox” or “monkeypox” —monkeypox in English— a public health emergency of international concern. We tell you what it is, what its symptoms are and how it spreads.

Currently the natural reservoir of monkeypox. However, rodents and African primates such as monkeys can harbor the virus and infect humans.

Monkeypox virus has been reported mainly in West and Central Africa and is a rare but dangerous infection similar to the now eradicated smallpox virus. According World Health Organizationmonkeypox continues to appear sporadically.

Here’s everything you need to know about monkeypox:

What are your symptoms?

Monkeypox usually has milder symptoms than smallpox. According CDC, the disease begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, chills, swollen lymph nodes – a symptom that smallpox does not have – and exhaustion. Up to three days after having a fever, you may develop a rash on your face and body that progresses to crusty skin lesions.

The incubation period, which is the period between when a person is infected and when they show symptoms, is usually 7 to 14 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days. CDC. The disease usually lasts between 2 and 4 weeks.

People who may be showing symptoms of monkeypox and those in close contact with them should contact their doctor if they experience any unusual rashes or lesions, the CDC says.

“The infection can spread when a person is in close contact with an infected person; however, there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population,” read one. communicated from the United Kingdom Health Safety Agency (UKHSA).

According to the WHO, the mortality rate has varied during the different epidemics, but has been less than 10% in the documented events.

How is monkeypox spread?

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According to WHOIn the first cases, the monkeypox virus is transmitted by direct contact with blood, body fluids, skin lesions or mucous membranes of animals that have been contaminated with the virus.

For its part, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC, for its acronym in English) explain that the virus enters the body through skin wounds although they are not visible, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose or mouth.

Regarding human-to-human transmission, the CDC notes that it can occur when:

  • A bite or scratch occurs
  • By improperly cooking the meat of infected animals
  • In direct contact with bodily fluids or in indirect contact with injured material
  • Through contaminated bedding

WHO says transmission is primarily by respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face contact with someone who has contracted the virus, “putting family members of active cases at greater risk of infection. raised”.

The infection can also be transmitted by inoculation or through the placenta. However, the WHO indicates that to date, it has not been demonstrated “that person-to-person transmission alone can sustain monkeypox virus infection in humans”.

It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, usually in a closed environment, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC).

Is there a vaccine?

A recently approved monkeypox vaccine exists but is not widely available, WHO reports in an update to information on the epidemic published on May 21.

The smallpox vaccine, however, was found to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, according to the agency, and “may contribute to a smoother course of the disease.” added.

The downside is that, since the eradication of smallpox in 1979, this vaccine is also not widely available, according to the organization.

The WHO says the only way to reduce infections is to educate people about risk factors and how to reduce exposure. For example, reduce the risk of animal-to-human transmission by avoiding contact with rodents and primates in endemic areas and limiting direct exposure to blood and meat, as well as their thorough cooking.

In the event of person-to-person transmission, the WHO indicates that it is necessary to avoid contact with people infected with the virus, which is why the isolation of patients at home or in health centers is recommended. .

With reporting by CNN’s John Bonifield, Michael Nedelman and Martin Goillandeau.

This article was originally published on May 31, 2022.

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