Monkey pox epidemic: lethality in question

Monkey pox epidemic: lethality in question

The laboratory of arboviruses and viral diseases of the National Center of Microbiology of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, in Madrid, on May 27, 2022.

Three months after the first reports of monkeypox cases outside the African continent, five resulted in deaths in four different countries, between July 29 and August 2. While the exact causes of death have not been determined -an, some elements are announced.

In Brazil, it was a 41-year-old man who suffered “serious comorbidities” ; In Peru, an HIV-positive man who abandoned his anti-HIV treatment died on Monday from monkeypox infection. In India and Spain, three people died with symptoms of encephalitis, an inflammation of the tissues that allow the brain to function. These deaths are more than the five deaths recorded in Africa since the beginning of the year.

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The fact that these deaths occurred at the same time in many places around the world is confusing, but, given the sharp increase in the number of cases in recent weeks – there are 23,000 to 25,000 according to sources, Wednesday August 3 -, the risk of serious or even fatal cases becomes mathematically greater. “If cases continue to rise, it is possible that the same will continue for deaths, comments Luis Sigal, poxvirus specialist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). The hope is that treatments, which are effective, will become more widely available; for this, governments should speed up their availability. »

Due to the cycle of the disease, whose median incubation time is seven days (but can be up to twenty days), followed by an approximately three-week outbreak, it is also expected that the most serious complications takes place almost a month after the explosion. large festive gatherings held between the end of June and the beginning of July, which are considered by health authorities as events with a high risk of contamination.

West African strain

“It is difficult to predict the future, but we now have a large sample size and the case fatality rate for this year is 0.05%, according to the reported numbers,” says Chloe Orkin, director of the Share project at Queen Mary University, London, and lead author of the largest study of the recent monkeypox outbreak published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Until then, the case of the fatality rate, meaning the number of people who died among the infected population, was estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) between 3% and 6% for the last epidemics in Africa. monkeypox.

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