Health authorities around the world are attentive to outbreaks of a disease that most people were unaware of.
Monkeypox has entered scientists’ radar – and headlines around the world – after outbreaks of the disease were reported in Europe, North America and Australia. But The World Health Organization has already warned that there is no cause for alarm, because the risk of contamination is low.. More than 100 cases have been confirmed in at least 16 countries, and dozens are under review.
So far, no deaths have been recorded outside the endemic areas of the African continent.
The disease was identified in the 1950s in Africa in two colonies of monkeys held in captivity for research. Hence the name. But the virus’s first hosts are rodents..
The first recorded case in humans was in the 1970s, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Transmission to humans occurs through contact with infected animals, living or dead. Among humans, the contagion can be through droplets expelled by coughing. But the most common is transmission by contact with the fluid that leaks from wounds on the skin.
The virus can also be deposited on clothing, bedding, or towels used by sick people.
“Close contact between people, more intimate, is therefore necessary for transmission to take place. But it is important to say that it is not as effectively transmitted through the air as the Covid-19 virus. It is much less transmissible than the virus that causes Covid-19”, explains the president of the Brazilian Society of Virology, Flávio Guimarães da Fonseca.
Virologist Flávio Guimarães da Fonseca explains that symptoms appear seven to 14 days after infection.
First, fever, headache, and body aches. Then swelling in the nodes in the throat, armpits and groin. Only then do the skin sores, called vesicles, appear. When they rupture, they release a large amount of fluid with millions of viruses. A week later, the sores dry up and can leave scars.
The disease can affect anyone, but it is more dangerous in children, the elderly and those with immunity problems.. But monkeypox can be prevented by avoiding contact with those with symptoms and wearing a mask in crowded environments.
The epidemiologist at the Federal University of Espírito Santo Ethel Maciel points out that there is a vaccine for the disease.
“In 2019, a monkeypox vaccine was approved, a combined vaccine for human and monkey smallpox that has high efficacy. So we are in a very different situation from Covid. We have vaccines, we have vaccines that are effective but not available on a large scale,” he says.
A Brazilian, who passed through Portugal and Spain, was the first case of monkeypox diagnosed in Germany. But in Brazil there is no record of the disease. Anvisa announced that it monitors the cases reported around the world, together with the Ministry of Health, and that it reinforces the need to maintain the health measures already adopted at ports and airports during the Covid pandemic.
The director of the Epidemiological Surveillance Center at the Adolfo Lutz Institute, Tatiana Lang D’Agostini, said that the laboratory is prepared to investigate suspected cases.
“Any case that is notified will be investigated and sanitary measures will be taken, including tracing contacts close to this suspected case”, he explains.
“At this point it is important not to generate panic, not to panic. We are coming from three years of a pandemic. So, this type of news scares, brings anxiety, but at this moment it is a disease with a much lower transmission character, a disease that has a vaccine, has a remedy. What we have to be vigilant, it’s important to be vigilant, without panic”, says Flávio Guimarães.