After the COVID-19 pandemic comes another contagious disease: monkeypox.

It is a sylvan zoonosis – a disease that affects wild animals – which usually spreads to wooded areas
in central and western Africa. Unfortunately today, the WHO explained, several cases have been
reported in Europe, in the United States and a first case also in Italy, on 19 May.

It is caused by a virus of the same family as smallpox (monkeypox virus) but which differs from
this in the lower transmissibility and severity of the disease it causes. The name derives from the
first identification of the virus, discovered in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958.
It is a disease that disappears after 14-21 days with symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle
aches, very painful rashes. It is transmitted through droplets of saliva or by contact with
contaminated materials / people. The incubation period for monkeypox is 6 to 13 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days. The recommendations include staying at home to rest in case of fever and contacting the doctor in case of blisters or other skin manifestations.

The virus probably comes from (still unknown) rodents and is also spread through the consumption
of contaminated meat or contact with live animals. There are two families of monkeypox: that of
West Africa and that of the Congo. According to some studies, the mortality rate is between 1% and
10% and this percentage could decrease with a smallpox vaccine. The vaccine (MVA-BN) and a
specific treatment (tecovirimat) were approved for monkeypox in 2019 and 2022 respectively, but,
the WHO warns, the world population under the age of 40/50 does not benefit from the protection.

So we must be very careful and use prevention systems because, if the disease spreads, it would be
very serious for all countries of the world.

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Marta Labita



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