Monkeypox cases are on the rise. The WHO (World Health Organization) declared that the disease constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. So far, about 25,000 cases of the disease have been reported in 83 countries around the world, according to the CDC.
In Brazil, there are already more than a thousand confirmed cases and one death. The assessment of the experts consulted by Live wellhowever, is that the impact of monkeypox on people’s routine will not be as great as the covid-19, which caused much of the world to adopt lockdown or isolation measures.
“The disease has another natural history”, says Alexandre Naime Barbosa, professor at Unesp (State University of São Paulo) and vice-president of SBI (Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases). Monkeypox has a much lower mortality than the disease caused by the coronavirus and most cases are mild and do not require hospitalization. “In some immunosuppressed people, the elderly or children, the disease can lead to a serious case or death, but there will be no restrictive measures”, says the doctor.
So far, there have been no prolonged cases of monkeypox, such as the prolonged covid that affected many patients, nor serious sequelae, but it is possible that some patients develop a serious condition of the disease and may need hospitalization. The most vulnerable groups are immunosuppressed people, the elderly, children and pregnant women.
Skin lesions can be deeper and leave scars. In some more serious cases, there may be changes in the central nervous system or the development of pneumonia, which may require the patient to be hospitalized, but experts emphasize that these are exceptions. “Most people do not need to be hospitalized,” says Viviane de Macedo, an infectious disease specialist at the Santa Casa Hospital in Curitiba (PR) and a professor at the Positivo University.
The pressure on the health system can happen due to the increase in the search for diagnosis, which can overload outpatient clinics and emergency rooms, but not ICUs in search of beds. “Countries made a lockdown because there was pressure for beds in hospitals, wards and ICUs, there was no bed for everyone, but monkeypox has a benign evolution in most cases. There may be pressure for care, because the number of cases will increase, but it is not a disease that needs hospitalization”, explains the infectologist. In most cases, treatment requires home isolation rather than hospitalization.
For Ana Karolina Barreto Marinho, a member of the Scientific Department of Immunization at Asbai (Brazilian Association of Allergy and Immunology), there will hardly be an overload in the health system, as happened with covid-19, which caused the entire SUS network ( Unified Health System) and private hospitals to focus on the treatment of a single disease.
“A new disease generates demand, it is necessary to train more professionals, communicate with the population and educate people better, but there is already an understanding that monkeypox does not have the same speed or capacity for contamination as the coronavirus and other respiratory diseases”, says the doctor. “It is a slower disease and with less transmission capacity, with contagion by skin contact, such a rapid and intense spread is not expected”, she explains.
For Naime, at this moment, it is important to inform the population about how to protect themselves from the disease. “There will be no restrictive measures, but there must be guidance to reduce the risks of contracting the virus, because all people are susceptible to the disease.”