After Covid-19, here is a new virus, almost unknown in Europe, worrying health authorities. Monkeypox usually is a rare and endemic disease in Western Africa naturally transmitted from animals to humans. But the virus unusually spread across forty countries in a matter of days, including France. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced they “will continue to monitor this event” and recommend “suspected cases should be isolated and tested and notified promptly”.
But what is monkeypox, then? The disease seems impressive but is rather minor as it usually cures by itself. Less dangerous than smallpox, it yet can lead to similar symptoms: fever, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, shivers and fatigue. But the pox is usually identified through skin rashes mostly on the face, hands and genitals.
There is no cure to this infection, curing by itself within a couple of weeks. Yet, there is an 85% effective vaccine against the pox, according to the Institut Pasteur. Is a coronavirus-like epidemic to be feared? It is unlikely as the transmission likelihood involves very long contact with a body fluid from someone infected. The disease is transmitted between humans by saliva or during intercourses. Although reassuring, EU health authorities stay on alert as the increase of clusters worries the WHO.
Since the first case was reported in France this past May 19, in Île-de-France, more monkeypox cases have been reported in the country. According to the latest report from Santé Publique France, 1,955 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the country, including 814 in Île-de-France. To date, no death has been reported in France, but one in Spain. As for vaccination, several centers opened, especially in Île-de-France so contact cases and people the most exposed can be vaccinated.
"To date, these cases mostly rose, but not only, in men who had intercourses with men (MSM) without direct bounds with people back from endemic zone" a Santé Publique France release reads, adding "the current European context constitutes an alert and suggests contamination in Europe". Furthermore, Santé Publique France says the "permanent monitoring of Monkeypox via compulsory declaration is reinforced and information and alert messages are sent to health professionals."