Nistal: “People vaccinated against smallpox are 80% protected against monkeypox”


Leone virologist Estanislao Nistal warns on how to prevent monkeypox infections

Maria Fernandez

Confirmation of a total of
seven positive cases of monkeypox in the province of León has raised alarms in society about how contagions are occurring. A question to which the Leonese virologist Estanislao Nistal answers that he does not have the speed or the route of transmission like the flu or SARS, so that society can be serene, even if he considers that hygiene measures must be extreme.

Nistal points out that it is a contact virus with close transmission, skin to skin. “Infected people, in most cases, had very direct contact with infected people,” he admits, stressing that the most important thing is that infected people report their positive to the Health Service so that
hold back the virus. “At the beginning of the disease, incorrect information spread, so a social stigma emerged and many people do not want to report it,” explained Nistal, who warns that it is necessary to identify cases in order to eliminate the virus.

The way of being infected emphasizes that it is skin to skin or being in contact with objects carrying the virus, so it is necessary to continue disinfecting surfaces. “The virus is mostly found in the pustules when they burst, so it’s not that easy to get infected,” he says.

Among the symptoms, in addition to visible pustules, it also includes those typical of an acute infection such as joint pain, lack of appetite, extreme fatigue, back pain and swelling of the infected area. “Some people may develop a feeling of dizziness, vomiting or rare cases of seizures,” he warned.


Recall that the Nistal team is working on the development of a surface where viruses cannot live. “When we return from vacation, we have planned an experiment in this research,” he warned.

Regarding how to eradicate the virus, the virologist assures that a good step was the declaration of health alert by the World Health Organization, WHO. “In addition, it is recommended that infected people declare their seropositivity so that transmission is reduced,” he specifies.


Another aspect would be prevention through vaccines, a fact that does not take place. There are two types of treatments that can help fight the virus. On the one hand, the vaccine against smallpox which was administered in Spain to children until 1980 and which would protect against this variant by 80%, and on the other hand, a specific vaccine for the disease which is not available in Spain. “There is only one authorized distributor of this vaccine and currently its distribution chain is not sufficient,” he warns, pointing out that a recently infected person, if vaccinated, may contain the virus.

There is also an antiviral treatment, a drug made in the United States that prevents its replication.

“The most important thing is to be vigilant and maintain hygiene,” concludes the virologist.

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