Monkeypox: sixteen cases reported in France; everything about this new worrying virus

Published by Graziella L., Caroline J., Audrey L. · Published on 25 June 2022 at 09h00
Monkeypox – known on the African continent – is very rare in Europe. Yet, health authorities have reported a sudden rise in cases, including sixteen reported in France. How is this new virus transmitted? Here is more about it.

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 seven European countries in a matter of days, including France and Northern America. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), nine EU countries namely Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden report to date 67 cases of monkeypox. The ECDC also 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 Thursday May 19, in Île-de-France, more monkeypox cases have been reported in the country. According to the latest report from Santé Publique France, sixteen monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the country, especially in Île-de-France (12 cases). To date, no death has been reported, and two contact cases have been vaccinated already.

"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."

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