Dozens of recorded cases of monkeypox in Europe, North America and Australia in recent days have raised awareness among scientists and health agencies.
To date, there are at least 100 cases reported outside Africa, in 15 countries (the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Austria, the United States, Canada and Australia).
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it hopes to identify more monkeypox cases that are not directly related to West and Central Africa. As of Saturday, 94 cases of smallpox have been confirmed, and 28 suspected cases of smallpox that are not endemic to the virus have been reported, the UN agency said. The
The organization said it will provide more guidance and recommendations in the coming days on how to slow the spread of the disease.
On the African continent, there are already more than 1,200 suspected cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are still no reports of cases in Brazil.
Experts still do not know exactly how the disease is transmitted.. In general, the Monkeypox is transmitted from animals to humans – because it is a zoonotic disease – and less frequently, from person to person. Outbreaks have occurred in the past – most recently in 2021 in the US.
The World Health Organization reports that “the available information indicates that human-to-human transmission occurs between people in close physical contact with cases who show symptoms.”
Researchers investigate transmission of infection
“What appears to be happening now is that it entered the population as a sexual form, as a form of the genitals, and spreads like sexually transmitted diseases, amplifying its transmission worldwide,” said David Heymann, the official. From the World Health Organization and infectious disease expert to Reuters.
“these [varíolas] Minors – smallpox, monkeypox, cowpox – transmission is more associated with skin contact. It is this close proximity to animals that causes cow and monkeypox, explains Renato Kfoury, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and director of the Brazilian Association of Immunizations, which is why transmission between humans is so rare.
“That’s why it never spread. Smallpox like this is found in parts of Africa where it is close to the jungle and the animals,” Kfoury adds.See the video above). “The transmission of respiratory infections, from skin to skin, has already been described, but not once, in many countries around the world. This is new,” he says.
In addition to contact with an infected person – through the skin, with the lesions or the patient’s body fluids, including droplets and respiratory secretions – monkeypox is also transmitted by contaminated materials, such as bedding.
Since some cases occur in men who have sex with men (MSM), the sexual route of transmission is also under investigation by global health authorities.
“There is likely to be a more intimate form of contact that favors transmission,” Kfoury says. “But the transmission mechanism for this particular virus is not yet known.” But he warns There can be no stigma for this group, as there was in the advent of HIV.
He highlights, “We stigmatize sexual behavior a lot on the issue of HIV, as if it was the only way of transmission — and certainly, this time, it’s not.”
Epidemiologist Ethel Maciel, a professor at the Federal University of Espirito Santo (Ufes), posted similar observations on the social network Twitter:
“If you are a man who has sex with another man and you have a stable relationship (a stable partner), the chance of getting a sexually transmitted infection is about 0%. Just as if you were a man who had sex with a woman. Or a woman who had sex with women.”
“If you have multiple partners, and when you have intercourse you don’t use a condom and you have risky behavior, your chances are much higher. The combinations are endless. So it’s not your sexual orientation that transmits disease, it’s the way you choose to live their sex life,” added Maciel.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a disease that mainly occurs in tropical forest regions of Central and West Africa, and is only occasionally exported to other regions.
In 2003, the first outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa occurred in the United States – in connection with contact with infected domestic prairie dogs. The dogs were housed with mice and rats from The Gambia – which were imported into the United States from another African country, Ghana. The outbreak has led to more than 70 cases of monkeypox in the United States.
Cases have also been reported of travelers who left Nigeria for Israel (September 2018), the United Kingdom (September 2018, December 2019, May 2021 and May 2022), Singapore (May 2019) and to the United States in July and November 2021.
Since 2017, Nigeria has experienced a major outbreak, with over 500 suspected cases, over 200 confirmed cases and a mortality rate of close to 3%. Cases continue to be reported to this day.