What is smallpox and what are its signs and symptoms?


A very rare disease called smallpox, a minor relative of smallpox, is spreading around the world. According to the World Health Organization, more than 250 cases have been reported in at least 16 countries. According to experts, the disease is transmitted through close and prolonged contact with an infected person.

Rosamund Lewis, head of the World Health Organization’s emergency response program, told a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that “countries that are now reporting monkeys are usually countries that do not have an ape outbreak.”

Monkeys are endemic to tropical forests in central and western Africa, but according to the WHO, they are more common near cities.

“This is a new disease. It has appeared over the last 20-30 years, (so) it is not unknown, it is very well described, ”Lewis told reporters. “Therefore, the risk to the general public seems to be low, because we know that the main methods of infection were as described earlier.”

The first case of monkey disease in the United States in 2022 was identified in a patient who was recently hospitalized in Massachusetts, who traveled to Canada by private vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease was diagnosed in 2021 in two people traveling from Nigeria to the United States.

According to the CDC, cases in other parts of the world other than Africa are usually related to international travel or imported animals infected with smallpox.

There have been several reported cases of monkey disease in the UK no known travel or contact with othersbut there is no cause for concern, U.S. General Surgeon Dr. Vivek Merty made the announcement on CNN’s “New Day” program on Thursday.

“Right now, we don’t want people to worry,” Merty said. “These numbers are still small; We (people) want to know about the symptoms and consult a doctor if they have any concerns.

According to the CDC, there is an incubation period of seven to 14 days. The initial symptoms are usually similar to the flu, such as fever, chills, fatigue, headaches and muscle weakness, and then lymph node tumors help the body fight infections and diseases.

“The distinguishing feature of smallpox in monkeys is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.

Then there are rashes on the face and body, including the mouth, palms, and soles of the feet.

Painful, raised lenses are pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles. According to the CDC, the number of victims will eventually increase and be resolved within two to three weeks.

In the current epidemic, according to the WHO and the CDC, patients are more likely to develop pelvic rash.

“In some cases, in the early stages of the disease, rashes were more common in the genital and perianal area,” says the doctor. John Brooks, chief medical officer of the CDC’s HIV / AIDS unit, said at a briefing on Monday.

“In some cases, it has caused sores on the anal or genitals, similar to other diseases such as herpes or chickenpox or syphilis,” he said.

In the current epidemic, “a significant portion of the regions” have been observed among gay and bisexual men, “but the risk of contracting smallpox is not limited to the gay and bisexual community in the United States. Anyone can thrive. [and] The monkey spreads smallpox, ”Brooks said.

Overall, the risk of smallpox in monkeys is moderate for people with multiple sexual partners, but low for the general population, according to a rapid risk assessment report released Monday by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, monkey smallpox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

Experts say that monkeys need to be in close contact with an infected person in order to spread the smallpox virus.

Neil Mabbot, head of the Department of Immunopathology at the University of Edinburgh School of Veterinary Medicine in Scotland, said the infection could occur “after contact with broken skin, mucous membranes, droplets, infected body fluids or contaminated respiratory flaxseed”.

“Once the wounds have healed, the scabs (which can be caused by an infectious virus) can be spilled into the dust and inhaled,” the doctor said. Michael Skinner, a medical student at Imperial College London’s Infectious Diseases Department, said in a statement.

Infection between humans can occur through large droplets in the respiratory tract, and since such droplets typically travel several feet, “long-term face-to-face contact is required,” the CDC said. According to the WHO, this poses a greater risk to anyone who actively infects health workers and household members.

Smallpox, which was eradicated worldwide in the 1980s, is also spread primarily through direct and prolonged face-to-face contact between people, as well as from objects contaminated with infected fluids, bedding or clothing.

“People with smallpox spread the virus through droplets after ulcers, coughing or sneezing. They remained contagious until the wounds healed, ”he said. Paritosh Prasad is director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

However, based on available historical data, monkeys appear to be less contagious than smallpox, Prasad said.

“Smallpox can be a serious infection, and in other epidemics the mortality rate from this type of smallpox virus has been around 1%. These are often in low-income areas with limited health opportunities, ”said Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, UK. There are no casualties from the current epidemic.

However, in the developed world, “it would be unusual to see multiple episodes in any epidemic, and we do not see the level of infection in the (Covid) style,” Hed said in a statement.

According to the CDC, conventional household disinfectants can kill the monkey virus.

There are no specific medications to treat smallpox symptoms, so “treatment is generally supportive,” said Jimmy Whitworth, an international health professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“However, there is a vaccine that can be given to prevent the disease from developing,” Whitworth said.

In the U.S., a two-dose vaccine called Jynneos is currently licensed to prevent monkey smallpox and can also be used against smallpox. The vaccine was prepared when the disease, which had been eradicated by the U.S. government, was revived.

“We currently have more than 1,000 doses of it and we expect this level to increase rapidly in the coming weeks as the company gives us more doses.” Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the high-risk pathogens and pathologies department at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, told reporters on Monday.

“We hope to distribute the vaccine as much as possible to those who will benefit from it,” McKuiston said. “They are people who have been in contact with people with monkey pox, medical staff, people who have very close personal contacts and people who are at particular risk of contracting smallpox.”

Smallpox got its name in 1958 “when there were two outbreaks of smallpox in monkey colonies kept for research,” the CDC said.

However, the main carrier of monkey smallpox is still unknown, but “African rodents are suspected of playing a role in the infection,” the agency said.

The first known case of smallpox in humans was recorded “in the 1970s during the intensified efforts to eradicate smallpox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the CDC said. Since then, most cases have been concentrated in 11 African countries – several epidemics related to travel or imports from endemic countries in the United States and Europe.

The epidemic occurred in 2003 in the United States in six states – Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin – after forty-seven people became ill from contact with pets, the CDC said.

“The pets became infected after being placed next to small mammals imported from Ghana,” the CDC said. “This is the first case of ape disease in humans outside Africa.”


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