Although hospitalization is ruled out, prevention of monkeypox is urgent

Rash, skin lesions, fever and body pain, symptoms; skin spots and papules may leave permanent lesions. Mexico is prepared to diagnose this disease; there are 52 confirmed cases, most of them in adult men.

Although hospitalization is ruled out, prevention of monkeypox is urgent
Even though hospitalization is ruled out, prevention against monkeypox is urgently needed. Image: Sarbelio Moreno Espinosa

With appropriate measures and medication, monkeypox can be treated at home and is generally cured in 14 days; it is not a serious, fatal disease or one that requires hospitalization, said Sarbelio Moreno Espinosa, professor of virology at the Infectious Diseases Postgraduate Program of the Faculty of Medicine (FM) of the UNAM.

What is fundamental is to avoid contagion, which is transmitted from skin to skin, by contact with saliva, from the mouth to the genitals, or with the anus of infected people. The most affected group are men who have sex with men, and the risk is higher for pregnant women and young children, he added.

Unlike COVID-19, Monkeypox is not a new disease, but one that was believed to be endemic to Africa, related to human smallpox, which affected Mexico after the Conquest and has now been eradicated in our country. For human smallpox, there was an efficient vaccine (which also helps for monkeypox), but it is no longer produced in this nation since 1980.

During the distance press conference "Mexico and smallpox: where are we?", the pediatric infectologist of the Children's Hospital of Mexico Federico Gómez referred that it is a pandemic since according to data from the World Health Organization there are 17,836 confirmed cases in 74 countries, in addition to five deaths, the latter in Africa and associated with malnutrition problems.

The most affected are Spain (with 3,125 cases), the United States (2,890), Germany (2,268), the United Kingdom (2,208), and France (1,567 cases).

Mexico appears in 20th place internationally, with 52 infected persons. The cases "are distributed heterogeneously in different entities, most of them have affected men and 34 percent of those infected have HIV, although they are under control", he pointed out.

Symptoms of monkeypox

The most characteristic symptom is a rash (an inflamed or irritated area of skin that is usually itchy) that may look like spots or macules, as well as raised skin lesions (papules) that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and spread to the arms, legs, hands (including the palms), and feet (also the soles).

There is also fever; headache, muscle, back, and throat pain; swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and nasal congestion or cough.

The specialist commented that a confirmed case is achieved with a positive real-time PCR test, or by a sequencing study, carried out in the case of Mexico by the Instituto de Diagnóstico y Referencia Epidemiológicos Dr. Manuel Martínez Báez. The conditions exist to diagnose and treat this disease; the most important thing is the preventive measures to prevent it from spreading.

Prevention of monkeypox

In order not to become infected, close skin-to-skin contact between people who have a rash that resembles monkeypox should be avoided; do not touch it or the scabs it produces; do not kiss, hug or have sexual relations with someone who has the disease or use objects and materials they have used, such as eating utensils, bed linen, towels, among others.

It is advisable to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after using the bathroom. Also, avoid contact with rodents and primates, dead or alive, and with materials, they have touched.

Moreno Espinosa recommended respecting the confinement measures, bathing frequently to prevent reinfections in the spots, eating well, not exposing oneself to the sun, having adequate hydration, and controlling the fever.

"In Mexico, we are prepared to diagnose monkeypox and to know the mechanisms of transmission", he concluded.