First deaths of monkeypox patients outside Africa

First deaths of monkeypox patients outside Africa

The first deaths, outside Africa, of people infected with monkeypox were announced on Friday, a few hours apart, by Spain and Brazil, without it being known whether the virus is at the origin. of these two deaths.

They bring the number of deaths recorded globally since May to seven, with the first five reported in Africa, where the disease is endemic and was first detected in humans in 1970.

In Brazil, a 41-year-old man, carrier of smallpox, died Thursday in Belo Horizonte (southeast), announced Friday the State Secretariat for Health of the State of Minas Gerais. He was “being followed in hospital for other serious clinical conditions”, according to the press release.

“It is important to emphasize that he had serious comorbidities, so as not to cause panic in the population. Mortality (linked to this disease) remains very low,” said Minas Gerais Health Secretary Fábio Baccheretti , who explained that the patient was undergoing treatment for cancer.

In Spain, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday the first death of a patient infected with this disease, a first in Europe, without specifying either the cause or the date of death.

With 4,298 cases recorded, Spain is one of the countries with the most cases in the world.

– 70% of cases in Europe –

On July 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued the highest level of alert, the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (USPPI), to strengthen the fight against monkey pox, also called orthopoxvirus. simian.

According to the WHO, more than 18,000 cases have been detected worldwide since the beginning of May outside endemic areas in Africa.

The disease has been reported in 78 countries and 70% of cases are concentrated in Europe and 25% in the Americas, the organization’s director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Wednesday.

About 10% of cases require hospital admission to try to alleviate the pain that patients are experiencing.

In most cases, the patients are men who have sex with men, relatively young, and living mainly in towns.

The first symptoms are high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash similar to chickenpox.

On Wednesday, the WHO clearly advised the group most affected by the disease – men who have sex with men – to reduce the number of sexual partners.

The best way to protect yourself “is to reduce the risk of being exposed” to the disease, explained the director general of the WHO, during a press briefing in Geneva.

Monkeypox is not currently considered a sexually transmitted disease and anyone can contract it. Direct skin-to-skin contact but also infected sheets or clothing are vectors of transmission of the disease.

The WHO also strongly emphasizes the need to avoid any stigmatization of a specific community, which could lead its members to hide the disease, not seek treatment and continue to spread it.

For now, the WHO stresses that there are not vaccines for everyone and therefore recommends prioritizing those who are most at risk, those who are sick and those who treat or make them. of research.

“It is important to emphasize that vaccination does not protect instantly against infection or disease and this can take several weeks,” Dr. Tedros warned. Once vaccinated, it is therefore necessary to continue to take precautions.

Vaccination is carried out with two doses, spaced at least 28 days apart. For people vaccinated against smallpox in childhood, one dose is enough. For the immunocompromised a third dose is recommended.

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