We have learned a lot through the COVID19 pandemic. We have also developed a high sensitivity, if not fear, to news related to viral infections. Never before we have shown such a level of concern, vigilance and observation of hygienic and social preventive behaviours

Now we see every day the news about the outbreak of cases of Monkeypox infection and we risk to feel it like a deja vu. Monkeypox departs with a misleading name: it was described in monkeys in the lab but it is a zoonosis that is transmitted to humans from animals yet to be fully determined, probably rodents.

Here are some bullets that summarize the current wisdom about to what extent we should
be concerned about this illness:

  1. We should not be alarmed. We should be cautious and follow the authorities guidelines.
  2. An outbreak is not a pandemic. The health care authorities have to act fast, need to observe the epidemiology of the illness and learn from it. Acting “before we know” is key to avoid the viruses to win the race, as Michael Ryan explains (executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program). We need to follow the guidelines.
  3. There are outbreaks in several countries of a rare and well known virus. Most of them are from a strain that is the least aggressive (the West Africa strain). The authorities are studying the possible but not probable relationship of the declared cases. The cases are mostly young people and it is known that to transmit the virus it is necessary a very close contact. This is posing several questions that have today only partial answers. The human smallpox virus is considered to be eradicated from the 70’s and this is a parent of that virus. The vaccination for smallpox used to be universal and the effectiveness is very long. The vaccination rate for smallpox is trending down and this could be related to the outbreak of cases as the traveling is increasing and the young age of the infected people might be affecting mainly non vaccinated individuals. The authorities are planning a smallpox vaccination campaign.
  4. Fever is one of the first manifestations of the disease but it is unspecific as it is common to most viral infections among other diseases. Watching our temperature is an easy and important gesture to keep ourselves and our close relatives and friends safe. It will guide us early to seek medical care and protect our social and family environment.

By Joaquin Azpilicueta – Medical Director Exergen, MD, cardiologist

There’s a monkeypox outbreak in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and other European countries. The outbreak is small — so far 68 suspected cases, including eight in England and 20 in Portugal. Cases in Canada and a case in the U.S. have also been reported. Sweden has been added, also France and Belgium. It is steadily increasing and it is starting to worry people.

Monkeypox can be a nasty illness; it causes fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes and eventually “pox,” or painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet. One version of monkeypox is quite deadly and kills up to 10% of people infected. The version currently in England is milder. Its fatality rate is less than 1%. A case generally resolves in two to four weeks.