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“monkey pox” disease in 10 questions

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Experts under the umbrella of the Turkish Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (KLİMİK), which has been seen in 13 countries so far, “Does it cause a new epidemic?” He did an extensive study of the monkeypox virus that caused his worries.

Here is the ‘monkeypox virus’ in 10 questions…

1- Is monkeypox a new disease?

Monkey pox is not a new disease. After being detected in monkeys in 1958, the first case in humans occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The disease, which was discovered in 1958 after a smallpox-like epidemic in monkeys in the research laboratory, was named “monkey pox” for this reason.

The frequency of the disease, which is seen in 11 countries with tropical rainforests in Central and West Africa, especially in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is not known exactly. It is estimated that there are several hundred events each year in Africa. The disease is occasionally transmitted from the African continent to other continents through infected animals or humans, but few people are affected and regional clusters of events are seen there.

2- Why did it draw attention now?

Until now, it was known that all of the events outside of Africa were caused by humans or rodents brought from Africa. However, as the number of incidents detected outside of Africa has increased in the last week, exceeding the total number of incidents seen outside of Africa, it has drawn the attention of the World Health Organization and the scientific world.

3- What is the causative agent of the disease?

Monkeypox is a DNA virus related to smallpox virus. It has two subtypes, West African and Central African (Congo Basin). West Africa has a milder disease than the Congo type. Although genetic analyzes have not been completed at the moment, events seen outside of Africa are predicted to be a West African subtype.

4- How is it transmitted?

Contrary to its name, the disease, which is more common in rodents such as squirrels, rats, and mice than monkeys, and is transmitted from them to humans, is also transmitted as a result of close contact with infected people or with items such as clothes, towels and sheets contaminated with the virus. The virus enters healthy individuals through invisible cracks/scratches on the skin, mucous membranes (mouth, nose, eyes) or the respiratory system.

Human-to-human transmission is thought to be via large respiratory droplets. The transmission of the disease by large droplets that cannot travel far distances occurs through face-to-face, long-term and close contact.

5- What are the signs and symptoms?

Monkeypox causes fever, headache, fatigue, widespread body aches, swollen lymph nodes and skin lesions (rash). Lymph node swelling is the most valuable symptom of monkeypox, distinguishing it from smallpox, chickenpox, and meatles. Complaints appear on average 6-13 days after contact with the virus.

In the first 5 days of the disease, fever, severe headache, swelling in the lymph nodes, back pain and very weakness are experienced, and skin rashes are seen within 1-3 days after the fever starts. Lesions on the palms, feet, inside the mouth, genital area and eyes disappear with crusting and falling off.

6- How is the diagnosis made?

In cases where monkeypox is suspected, it is necessary to question whether people showing symptoms have traveled to risky areas in the past month or have had close contact with those with precedent symptoms.

The disease, which cannot be diagnosed with blood samples, cannot be detected by PCR because it has a very short time in the blood. It is thought that antigen and antibody tests will not always give true results for reasons such as the smallpox vaccine applied before.

In case of suspected disease, the samples, which are taken from the lesions in appropriate condition and with the necessary safety measures, and packaged, must be sent to the laboratory with “biosafety level 2”.

Those who come into contact with animals or individuals with confirmed monkeypox should be monitored for signs and symptoms for 21 days after the last contact.

7- Can there be an asymptomatic infection?

Although it is not clear, it is thought that monkeypox does not cause asymptomatic diseases such as Covid-19.

Since the emergence of symptoms in infected individuals will enable these individuals to be noticed and isolated, monkeypox is not expected to spread in the community as much as Covid-19 or other infections transmitted while asymptomatic.

8- Is monkeypox lethal?

Monkey pox usually settles in 2-4 weeks. However, severe disease can be seen in immunocompromised individuals and young children.

Generally, 3-6 percent of those who get sick die, mostly young children. While the lethality of the Central African subtype of the disease can reach up to 11 percent, the lethality of the West African subtype, which is thought to cause new incidents, remains at a lower rate of 1 percent.

9- Does smallpox vaccine protect against disease?

Although there is no widely used drug for monkeypox disease, the events have been controlled with drugs with active elements such as cidofovir and brinsidofovir.

Based on experiences in Africa, the World Health Organization reported that smallpox vaccine will provide up to 85 percent protection from monkeypox. However, the smallpox vaccine has not been applied since 1980 due to the worldwide end of the disease. Because of this, those who are currently vaccinated for smallpox consist of people over the age of 40-50. The fact that it passes for a long time causes concerns about the level of protection.

10- Is it likely to cause an epidemic?

It causes an epidemic like Covid-19 due to factors such as the prominence of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, the absence of asymptomatic infection compared to current information, the transmission by close and long-term contact, the fact that it mutates less than a DNA virus and changes easily and new variants do not appear. not expected.

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