What you need to know about the virus that causes monkeypox.Video / AP / Getty
The Ministry of Health and infectious disease experts have reassured the public that monkeypox is a safe and manageable disease after the first case was detected in New Zealand tonight.
The ministry said in a statement after 7 pm that the infected person was in his thirties and was isolated at his home in Auckland after recently returning from an overseas trip in a country where cases of monkeypox have been reported.
Infectious disease expert Professor Michael Baker told Herald tonight that the public does not have to panic about the emergence of infectious diseases detected in 50 countries.
“This is a very manageable infection, not something like Covid-19,” said an epidemiologist at the University of Otago.
“Especially for adults in high-income countries like New Zealand, we generally get very good results. This is a case that effectively recognizes and manages cases. There are multiple cases in Australia. Here. It was only a matter of time before I got the case. “
In their statement tonight, the ministry also ensured that most people with monkeypox can be safely managed at home and that there are few deaths from monkeypox worldwide.
In late May, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said the disease was unlikely to cause a pandemic in the area and many infected people would get better without treatment.
But what should the Kiwi people know about the global outbreaks of diseases that rarely occur outside Africa?
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals such as rodents and primates and sometimes infects people. It mainly inhabits Central and West Africa, where the disease is endemic.
Scientists first identified the disease in 1958, after two “smallpox-like” illnesses occurred in research monkeys. The first known human infection was a 9-year-old boy in Congo in 1970.
What are the symptoms? How is it treated?
Monkeypox belongs to the same viral family as smallpox, but the symptoms are mild.
In a statement tonight, the ministry said some smallpox vaccines could provide protection against the virus.
The ministry is currently working with Pharmac to explore access options for smallpox vaccines that can be used as part of targeted prevention of monkeypox epidemics in certain situations. Antiviral drugs are also being developed.
The first symptoms of monkeypox include headache, acute onset of fever (> 38.0C), chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and body aches, back pain, and malaise. A characteristic rash that resembles chickenpox usually appears after a few days.
“People who have lesions that look like chickenpox and have come into contact with the case or have been to Africa need to be vigilant,” Baker said.
Monkeypox can kill 1 in 10 people and is considered to be more severe in children.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incubation period (from infection to symptoms) usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks, but can be as short as 5 days and as long as 3 weeks.
However, most people recover within about 2-4 weeks without hospitalization.
Belgium has introduced a compulsory three-week quarantine for people infected with monkeypox.
“It was in other Western countries, so we certainly have to prepare for the scenario,” Veral said of New Zealand’s own reaction.
Arindam Basu, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Canterbury, thought that safeguards were needed in New Zealand as more cases of monkeypox could occur in the coming weeks.
“Monkeypox and Covid-19 are different illnesses and spread in slightly different ways, but at the individual level, especially with the ever-increasing number of cases of Covid-19, personal hygiene and mask protection are very important for both illnesses. Is important to us, “says Bass. ..
“It may be helpful to be careful of contact, keep a diary, and be tested for the first example of a common cold-like symptom.”
As reports of monkeypox came out internationally, the ministry then provided information about the virus. Website..
The ministry also provides advice to public health departments, primary health care institutions, and sexual health clinics to help identify potential cases.
How many cases of monkeypox have you had in the past?
The World Health Organization estimates that there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about 12 African countries each year. Most of them are in Congo, which reports about 6000 cases a year, and Nigeria, which reports about 3000 cases a year.
However, due to inadequate health monitoring systems in various countries, many infected people may be overlooked.
Isolated cases of monkeypox have been found in areas other than Africa, including the United States and the United Kingdom, but these cases are usually associated with travel to Africa and contact with animals in areas where the disease is more common. doing.
The Associated Press reported in 2003 that 47 people confirmed or estimated cases in six states in the United States. They caught the virus from a pet prairie dog kept near a small mammal imported from Ghana.
What’s the difference about this outbreak?
It is the first time that monkeypox appears to be widespread among people who have not traveled to Africa. Most often it involves a man who has had sex with a man.
In Europe, infections have been reported in the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The UK Health and Security Agency has stated that not all cases are related, suggesting that multiple infection chains are occurring. An infection in Portugal was discovered at a sexual health clinic where a man sought help with a genital lesion.
Does monkeypox spread through gender?
In a statement, the ministry identified cases of monkeypox outside of endemic countries, primarily among gay and bisexual men and men having sex with men, and international cases are the events in which this occurs. He said he was gathering around.
Monkeypox has not been previously reported to be transmitted by gender, but it can be transmitted by close contact with the body fluids and clothing of the infected person.
Varal said that monkeypox lesions are characteristic, but the disease may be initially undetected and cultured.
“It can be transmitted by close physical contact or droplets … but there is a suspicion that the clusters emerging in Europe have spread through sexual contact,” she said.
Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, told The Associated Press in May that it was too early to determine how a British man was infected.
“In essence, sexual activity involves intimate contact and is expected to increase the likelihood of infection, regardless of the person’s sexual orientation or mode of infection.”
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