Since early May, health officials have been monitoring a rise in the number of cases of monkeypox – a viral infection that is endemic in some regions of Africa but not used to be reported in other parts of the world.
This Tuesday (24/5), the World Health Organization reported that 131 cases have already been confirmed outside the African continent. There are still another 106 under investigation. Brazil still does not register patients with the disease. In Argentina, a first patient with symptoms was identified on Sunday (22/5).
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and exhaustion. Chickenpox-like sores are the most characteristic sign of a viral infection.
The pustules usually start to appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body, which may include the genitals.
During the period of infection, the wounds go through different stages, as shown in images released by the British agency, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). See below.
“It can look like chicken pox or syphilis, before finally forming a crust, which then falls off,” explains the UKHSA.
Evolution of wounds
Sores appear after the initial stage of infection. In the first stage, they are reddish patches about a centimeter in diameter, which soon become swollen and pus-filled.
In the 24 hours following the appearance, the spots spread to the rest of the body, becoming more concentrated on the face, arms and legs.
On the third day, the lesions become swollen. Between the fourth and fifth day, they turn into pus-filled blisters.
Afterwards, the lesions become even more bulging and firm to the touch. They can remain like this for a period of between five to seven days until they start to have crusts around them, which tend to fall off after a week.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients become contagious after the blisters fall.
Patients often report a lot of pain at the sites of the blisters and feel a severe itching when the blisters begin to crust over.
The incubation period for the virus that causes monkeypox varies from seven to 21 days. Symptoms usually appear between ten or 14 days after infection. The first signs are fever, malaise and pain and, about three days later, patients start to have blisters. The illness ends within three to four weeks.
how to catch
The transmission of the virus that causes monkeypox between humans occurs mainly through contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of infected people or objects that have been used by patients.
In the outbreak of European countries, there has been a prevalence of cases among men who have sex with men. However, so far, there is no evidence that the transmission between them was through sexual contact.
Health officials warn that those with unusual skin changes should seek medical attention.
It is usually not necessary to carry out specific treatment, as the symptoms disappear within a few weeks. The doctor, however, may recommend the use of medications that relieve symptoms more quickly.
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