Smallpox is a rare viral disease that has so far been found only in remote areas of Central and West Africa, in the vicinity of tropical forests. Due to the small number of patients and the mild form of illness, there is no alarm in Europe.
Monkey pox is spreading in Europe for the first time
Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control show that the first case of smallpox was registered in the UK on 7 May this year, most likely due to the disease. Already on May 14, the next two cases of the disease were registered in Great Britain, both people live in the same household, but have not had any contact with the first monkey pox patient detected in England. Two days later, the next four cases of the disease were reported in the UK – no one had traveled to countries where smallpox could spread (the so-called endemic regions). Epidemiologists indicate that young men have been diagnosed with the smallpox.
Monkey pox has also been reported in Portugal, with the first five cases recorded this week and another 20 suspected cases under evaluation. Most of the patients are from Lisbon. Spain has also reported eight cases.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, a total of seven cases of smallpox have been reported since 2018, all in the UK (2018, 2019 and 2021). In most cases, patients had traveled to countries where monkey pox was most common.
Therefore, epidemiologists can now say with certainty that the cases of smallpox recorded this year are the first cases of transmission of the disease in Europe, where there is no epidemiological link between Europe and West and Central Africa.
Epidemiologists will now monitor whether and how smallpox is spreading in monkeys, but so far it has been known to spread in close contact with humans, unlike, for example, Covid-19.
Latvia is following what is happening in the world
The Independent Center for Disease Prevention and Control confirmed that, according to the European Union’s Early Warning and Response System, there were reports of smallpox in various countries: seven laboratory-confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, five laboratory-confirmed cases in Portugal (Lisbon and the Tagus Valley) and 15 suspected cases, one laboratory-confirmed case in Sweden most likely related to a trip to Italy, eight suspected cases in Spain, one laboratory-confirmed case most likely related to a trip to Portugal in Belgium, one laboratory-confirmed case in Italy for a man who had on a trip to Gran Canaria. Only one case in the epidemiological investigation involves a trip to an endemic country, Nigeria, the other cases are not related to this introduced case, and epidemiological data indicate a local transmission of the infection. 13 suspicious cases were reported in Canada.
Do Latvian specialists monitor the spread of smallpox? This is confirmed by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control. “Yes, Latvian epidemiologists are monitoring information about the situation in the world related to monkey pox,” says Ilze Arāja, a specialist at the center. “We have prepared and sent a letter to the relevant Latvian doctors’ associations, such as family doctors, infectologists, urologists, dermatologists and others, informing them that such a disease is spreading and possible actions.”
Smallpox was stopped in 1980, followed by monkeys
The World Health Organization says the monkey virus is mainly transmitted to humans from animals such as rodents and primates, but human-to-human transmission of the virus has been very rare so far. Monkey influenza is a rare viral zoonosis that occurs in remote areas of Central and West Africa. There is no specific vaccine or treatment for monkey flu, but the smallpox vaccine can also protect against monkeypox.
What are the symptoms of the disease? These are similar to those seen with smallpox, although the symptoms are weaker. Smallpox as a disease was eradicated worldwide in 1980, and since the cessation of smallpox vaccination, smallpox has become the most common infectious disease in humans, although of course the incidence is not comparable to that of influenza or Covid-19. prevalence.
Outbreaks of smallpox were first detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) in 1970, and a smallpox from a region where smallpox was stopped in 1968. Since then, most monkey pox cases have been reported in rural areas near tropical forests. The Congo River region is the endemic region for monkey influenza. Data from the World Health Organization show that in 1996-1997. There was a large outbreak of smallpox in.
In 2003, cases of smallpox were reported in the United States. This was the first time the disease had been discovered outside the African continent. People in the United States became ill from pets – dogs, which in turn got the virus from rodents who came from Africa. Cases have been reported in ten African countries since 1970, such as Cameroon, Nigeria and others. In 2017, the last major outbreak occurred in Nigeria, affecting more than 40 people.
How does monkey pox manifest?
Monkey pox begins with fever, headaches, muscle and back pain, and fatigue. The disease is characterized by swollen lymph nodes and skin lesions ranging from rash to blisters and scabs. The disease usually lasts for two to four weeks. The lethality is up to 3.6 percent. The incubation period for monkey pox (time from infection to symptoms) is usually 6-16 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days, explains the Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Infection with the monkey pox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus through contact with an infected animal, humans, or by touching biological materials or environmental objects that are infected with the virus. The virus enters the body through damaged skin, even if the damage is not visible, the airways or mucous membranes. Human-to-human transmission of the virus occurs mainly through large airway droplets, which require relatively long contact with the face.