„The most difficult question probably has to do with the barriers that may arise when the first case is detected. In addition to the need for trained medical personnel, special equipment and reagents, medicines and vaccines, there is also a need for a high degree of responsibility on the biggest part of the population and patients who may already be infected with this disease....”
Among the news of recent days, the news, that the WHO has declared monkeypox a global health emergency has been somehow lost. We didn't come out of COVID-19 well, like the PLAGUE come in.
What is monkeypox and what we should know about this disease, I will reveal in this material.
For most of the Moldova’s population, the word "smallpox" is less well known. In fact, this term refers to an ancient disease that is part of the group of diseases formerly called the Plague.
In the literature, we will find many stories about epidemics of human plague, which was later called smallpox. Smallpox used to be a common disease that killed a third of the people who contracted it.
The first vaccination campaigns in the world in the XVIII century were vaccinations against plague (smallpox). For these reasons, they were also called variolations. Those born in the USSR before 1980 were mostly compulsorily vaccinated against human smallpox. Thanks to vaccination, human smallpox was completely eradicated in 1980.
The smallpox vaccine is a vaccine that contains a live inactivated virus, so it will provide lifelong immunity against human smallpox.
Smallpox monkeys or monkey plague
Monkeypox, which has been talked about a lot lately, is not a new disease. Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus from the same family as human smallpox, only this virus is not as aggressive and causes milder forms of the disease. The name of the virus refers to its discovery in monkeys during an animal experiment in Denmark conducted in 1958. The first transmission of monkeypox to humans was scientifically confirmed in 1970.
Monkeypox has existed in Africa for dozens, maybe hundreds, of years. Now, two varieties of this disease are known, which differ in the strain of the virus, the geography of distribution and the forms of the disease.
Congo strain – is a less aggressive strain and has a lower mortality rate.
The West African strain is more aggressive and has a higher mortality rate.
The disease is transmitted through biological fluids, that is, through direct contact with the body of an infected person, as well as through bed linen or accessories used by infected people.
The disease is transmitted less through the air, which is a positive aspect that will not allow the development of a new pandemic like the one that is being experienced now.
Periodically, active outbreaks of these strains appeared in Africa, which were brought under control by simple anti-epidemic measures, such as strict isolation of patients and their contacts, disinfection, epidemiological preventive measures in risk groups.
There have been small outbreaks of monkeypox over the years and in several European countries, but also in the U.S., most of which have been linked to people who traveled to Africa and brought the virus from there.
Symptoms of the disease in humans include fever, extensive rashes, skin lesions, and swollen lymph nodes after an incubation period of five to 21 days.
What happens to monkeypox now?
In early May of this year, monkeypox was discovered outside of African countries, where it is endemic. Although it is not a sexually transmitted disease, in addition to endemic areas, smallpox sometimes affects, with rare exceptions, men who have sex with men. The disease was diagnosed in a man who had an affair with someone who returned from the African Republic of the Congo.
In three months, about 16,000 cases (five of which were fatal) have already been reported in 75 countries, many of them (about 80%) are in Europe. Europe became the epicenter of a new endemic, the endemic of monkeypox, with the dominant strain of the Congo.
The disease has already been diagnosed in children, not just in LGBT men communities, and is spreading quickly.
What is important to know now?
- The population vaccinated in the USSR against smallpox before 1980 is now in the age segment of 42 - 43 years. Thus, all those who are already 42 years old and who were vaccinated in childhood are carriers of neutralizing antibodies to human smallpox, which are also active against monkeypox;
- A population that has not been vaccinated against human smallpox is now at risk of contracting monkeypox;
- When the first cases of monkeypox appeared, there were voices that suggested that vaccination against chickenpox (popularly called chickenpox) could also protect against monkeypox disease. Currently, there is still no scientific evidence to support or refute this claim. All that is known is that, theoretically, chickenpox, and monkeypox are two viruses that are in the same group, but from different families. Monkeypox virus is closely related to the human smallpox virus that causes smallpox, while the chickenpox virus is related to herpes simplex virus. We are waiting for the results of the studies;
- People who travel to endemic areas of Africa and or currently to Europe are at greater risk of infection, but there are already cases of infection in people who have not had direct contact or travel to endemic areas.
LGBT communities are the population groups most currently at risk of contracting monkeypox;
- Medical personnel are also a segment of the population with an increased risk of infection.
What is the risk for Moldova?
To answer this question, we must first answer other questions:
- Do we have people in Moldova who often travel to Africa or Europe?
- Do we have a population under the age of 42 in Moldova?
- Do we have an LGBT community in Moldova?
- Do we have monkeys or other animals in Moldova that can transmit monkeypox?
- Do we have poor people in Moldova who do not have the opportunity to ensure personal hygiene at the proper level?
If you answered "yes" to at least 3 of these 5 questions, then the risk of contracting monkeypox in Moldova is high.
The most difficult question probably has to do with the barriers that may arise when the first case is detected. In addition to the need for trained medical personnel, special equipment and reagents, medicines and vaccines, there is also a need for a high degree of responsibility on the biggest part of the population and patients who may already be infected with the disease.
How do I protect yourself?
- We read the official information about monkeypox in Moldova and around the world;
- We follow personal hygiene rules, something we've already learned how to do, and it's not difficult in the overall context of the pandemic;
- It is recommended to avoid uncontrolled sexual relations;
- Travelers arriving in the country from places with an outbreak of monkeypox or showing symptoms within three weeks of leaving these areas are advised to seek treatment immediately at the nearest health facility;
- If you are at risk and have access to smallpox vaccine, vaccination is recommended;
- The virus can create new strains, it can change a lot. We are constantly informing ourselves and remaining vigilant.