Monkey pox: symptoms, what is this disease?

MONKEYPOX. Almost 4,000 people have been infected with the monkeypox virus in France according to the latest report from Public Health France and it is still spreading. The symptoms are painful and very uncomfortable.

[Updated September 29, 2022 at 10:39 a.m.] The monkeypox epidemic continues to spread. The France lists 3,999 positive people at Monkeypox according to the situation update of September 27 Public Health France , that is 56 additional cases compared to the week before. In Europe, 20,083 cas have been confirmed in 29 countries and regions reports the ECDC . Two deaths have been recorded in Spain , one in Belgium and one in the Czech Republic . As of September 21, 62 532 cas of monkeypox and 23 deaths have been confirmed in the world at l'OMS . the name of new cases reported each week globally decreased by 18.7% in week 37 (September 12-18) compared to week 36 (September 05-11). Monkey pox is a infectious disease which is initially transmitted to humans by animals, mainly rodents (squirrels, Gambian rats) and originally located in Africa. 95% of reported cases are men homosexuals or bisexuals with multiple partners. Since early May 2022 , of the cases have emerged outside of Africa , not directly related to a trip . L' Public Health Emergency of International Concern was decreed by the WHO Director General in July. How is the virus transmitted? How avoid the transmission  ? What tests If in doubt ? What cause ? Is it dangerous ? What are the typical symptoms ?

  Carte distribution cas de monkeypox in Europe au 27 September 2022
Carte de distribution cas de monkeypox en Europe au 27 septembre 2022

How many cases in France?

Monkeypox infection is a notifiable disease in France. In the situation point of the September 27, Public Health France reports 3,999 confirmed cases in France : The region Ile-de-France concentrates the largest number of cases ( 2,441 , or 61.0%), followed by Occitanie (312 cases), Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (271 cases) and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (262 cases); 21 cases reside abroad. The vast majority of cases identified to date are male adults , except 95 female adults and 10 children . 95% of reported cases are homo- or bisexual men with multiple partners. Adult cases have a median age of 36 ; 25% of adult cases are under 29 years old and 25% are 43 to 81 years old.

  Map of confirmed cases of monkeypox by region in France
Map of confirmed monkeypox cases by region in France as of September 27
  Confirmed cases of monkeypox
Confirmed cases of monkeypox by week of onset of symptoms, France, May-September 2022 (data as of 09/27/2022 – 12:00 p.m.)

Definition: what is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is caused by a DNA virus of the genus Orthopoxvirus of the Poxviridae family. 'VS' is a rare viral zoonoses (virus transmitted to humans by animals) which is mainly observed in isolated areas of central and western Africa , close to tropical rainforests ' indicates the WHO . We speak of 'monkey' pox because the virus was discovered in 1958 in laboratory monkeys in Copenhagen most 'it is a mistake to say this because it is rather a smallpox virus hosted by rodents like squirrels and large African rats like the Gambian rat' explains Professor Jeanne Brugère-Picoux. ' What a virus clinically resembles smallpox but monkeypox is due to a poxvirus different from smallpox virus ' says the WHO. The first human case was detected in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at a child living in an area where smallpox had been eliminated since 1968. Two strains of monkeypox are known:

  • the Congo strain or central African strain (the most virulent) renamed 'Clade I' by the WHO in August 2022.
  • the West African strain (less virulent which seems to be the one found in current cases) renamed 'Clade II'.

The monkeypox virus clinically resembles smallpox but it is a different poxviruses. The so-called 'monkey' pox is more benign, associated with lymph nodes (there are no nodes in smallpox), the scars are less severe. Monkey pox is also very similar to chicken pox which is more contagious.



'Under a microscope, we immediately recognize the virus'

Name: why is it called 'monkey pox'?

We speak of 'monkey' pox because the virus was discovered in 1958 in laboratory monkeys in Copenhagen most 'it is a mistake to say this because it is rather a smallpox virus hosted by rodents like squirrels and large African rats like the Gambian rat' explains Professor Jeanne Brugère-Picoux. However, the name 'monkey pox' or 'Monkeypox' should soon be dropped. To avoid offending any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups and to minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, WHO experts are currently exchanging to give a new name to this disease and its virus . As of August 12, 2022, the names of the two Monkeypox virus strains have already been changed by the WHO . We are now talking about 'Clade I' to designate the strain called 'Congo' or Central Africa (the most virulent) and 'Clade II' for the so-called 'West African' strain (less virulent). Clade II consists of two subclades: 'Clade IIa' and 'Clade IIb' (found in the 2022 outbreak).

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease 'with cutaneous tropism' explains Professor Brugère-Picoux. The symptoms are painful and very uncomfortable. They go away on their own, but can be serious in some cases.

Typically, within the first 5 days, Monkeypox infection causes:

  • fever
  • headache
  • adenopathy (swollen lymph nodes)
  • back pain
  • myalgia (muscle aches)
  • asthenia (exhaustion)
  • Of the sore throat

Within 1-3 days (sometimes longer) of onset of fever , the patient presents with Rashes (rash) that often start on the face then spread to other parts of the body, including the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and the mucous membranes (mouth and genital area (sex, anus)). Skin involvement occurs in one push . Of the itching are frequent. Pimples go through successive stages:

  • macules
  • papules
  • vesicles
  • pustules
  • scabs

When the scabs fall off, people are no longer contagious. The other mucous membranes (ENT, conjunctivae) may also be affected. If symptoms appear ( fever and rash with blisters ), contact the SAMU Center 15 . It is recommended that you isolate pending medical advice and avoid contact with other people. A study published in July 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine bearing on 528 cas d'infections Monkeypox diagnosed in 16 countries between April and June showed that 95% of people had a rash (of which 64% had < 10 lesions), 73% had anogenital lesions and 41% had mucosal lesions . Before the appearance of these lesions, 62% had had fever, 41% lethargy, 31% myalgia and 27% headache. 56% also had swollen glands. 70 people were hospitalized for pain management, mainly for severe anorectal pain (21 people); soft tissue superinfection (18); pharyngitis limiting oral intake (5); eye damage (two); kidney damage acute (2); myocarditis (2); and for infection control purposes (13). No deaths have been reported.

Diagnosis: How to do monkeypox PCR test?

People with symptoms suggestive of Monkeypox infection should contact their attending physician or a Cegidd (free center for information, screening and diagnosis). A virological analysis by PCR confirms infection. the reference sample is cutaneous (at the level of the vesicles). It can also sometimes be nasopharyngé if the person has a rash in the mouth or throat. 'Under a microscope (skin sample, editor's note), we immediately recognize the virus because it is a big virus' says Professor Brugère-Picoux. While waiting to carry out the test and know the results, the people tested must isolate themselves. In case of positive test, you must isolate yourself for 21 days, more if the pimples are not completely dry.

How long is the isolation?

A person whose diagnostic test (PCR) result is positive for the monkeypox virus is a confirmed case of monkeypox and must self-isolate for 3 weeks (21 days) from their date of onset of signs if their clinical condition does not require hospitalization, remind Public Health France . It is contagious from the first signs, until the complete healing of the skin ( disappearance of scabs ). This isolation, after medical advice, can be lifted after 14 days in case of recovery (healing of all the vesicles with fall of the crusts). A work stopping or an authorization for full-time teleworking can be issued by your attending physician, specifies the ARS of Ile-de-France .

During home isolation (ideally) in a separate room from other residents:

  • No outings or visits, except essential (medical for example)
  • No physical contact (no kissing, skin-to-skin contact, etc.)
  • Wear a surgical mask in the presence of other people
  • Cover rashes or pimples as well as possible (clothing, bandages)
  • Do not share personal effects (objects, dishes, clothes, linens)
  • No contact with pets (possibility of transmission)
  • Respect the treatment given by the doctor, because certain drugs are to be avoided (do not take anti-inflammatories)
  • Clean hands, short fingernails, no scratching, no touching pimples.
  • Wash your hands before any contact and regularly using soap and water or a hydro-alcoholic solution.
  • Avoid taking baths, prefer showers and dab dry (without rubbing).
  • Wash personal belongings separately (dishes, laundry at 60° if possible).
  • Regularly clean/disinfect affected surfaces, especially sanitary ones (once a day), with the usual products.
  • It is recommended abstain from sexual intercourse for the duration of solitary confinement.
  • Regular airing of the room where the infected person is staying.

If scabs fall off, they can be contagious, as can soiled dressings and bandages: put them in a specific bin bag to close, then put in another bin bag to close before throwing it away with household waste. Relatives should wash their hands regularly, avoid direct contact (skin to skin) with the infected person or their personal effects (dishes, laundry, etc.) and wear a surgical mask near them.

How long do monkeypox symptoms last?

' The fever phase lasts about 1 to 3 days. The disease, generally benign, most often heals spontaneously, after 2 to 3 weeks' informs Public Health France.

Photo: What do monkeypox pimples look like?

Monkeypox causes pimples that can make you think of chickenpox: first vesicles (pimples with liquid inside) then pustules and finally scabs . Unlike chickenpox, pimples occur in a single flare-up. When the scabs fall off, people are no longer contagious.

  monkeypox pimples
Typical pimples in monkeypox infection

What is the incubation period for monkeypox?

'The incubation of the disease can range from 5 to 21 days, on average 6 to 13 days. The fever phase lasts about 1 to 3 days. The disease usually heals spontaneously, after 2 to 3 weeks but sometimes 4 weeks' specifies Public Health France.

How do you get monkeypox?

According to researchers from the Pastor Institute , transmission of monkeypox virus outside of Africa' is probably due to the global decline in immunity to viruses of the orthopoxvirus genus (responsible for human smallpox), following the cessation of smallpox vaccination in the 1980s. Monkeypox could therefore become the most important infection with orthopoxvirus in humans.
► Transmission between men: The transmission  mainly occurs through particles from respiratory droplets (sputter, sneeze within 2 meters for at least 3 hours) and speak direct skin contact or some mucous membranes (mouth, sex, anus ) with pimples or scabs. Sexual intercourse, with or without penetration, meets these conditions for contamination, and having multiple partners increases the risk to be exposed to the virus. Transmission can also be done via the laundry sharing (clothes, sheets, towels, etc.), toiletries (toothbrushes, razors, etc.), crockery, sex toy, syringe…

►Transmission from animals to humans: 'The virus is mainly transmitted to humans from various wild animals , rodents or primates for example 'explains the WHO. The infection is caused by a direct contact with blood, body fluids, or broken skin or mucous membranes of infected animals . ' In Africa, human infections have been documented following the handling of infected monkeys, Gambian giant rats and squirrels, with rodents thought to be the main reservoir of the virus. The consumption of meat from infected animals undercooked is a possible risk factor ' develops WHO.

How to avoid transmission during sex?

Sexual contact with a person carrying the virus favors the transmission of the virus. The virus has been isolated from the semen of patients. “It is not known how long the virus persists in semen and genital secretions, or whether these biological fluids can transmit the disease” report the ARS of Ile-de-France . As a result and as a precaution, the French health authorities recommend:

  • abstain from sexual intercourse for the entire period of isolation (approximately 3 weeks);
  • do not share sex toys;
  • d' use a condom during sex of all types up to 8 weeks after the end of the period of infectiousness (the period of contagiousness begins as soon as the first symptoms appear and lasts until the lesions have healed) .

What faire if on est cas contact?

The High Authority for Health ( HAS ) recommends vaccinate contact cases of a confirmed case monkeypox with the smallpox vaccine. No need to isolate yourself though. For children (-18 years old), the HAS recommends that vaccination be considered on a case-by-case basis. If your child has a contact case, the Regional Health Agency ( ARS ) recommends:

  • Monitor the appearance of symptoms (fever, rash) and call 15 if necessary;
  • Be offered a consultation in order to have the child benefit from a vaccination if it is deemed necessary by the doctor
  • In the absence of symptoms, and in the state of knowledge, there is no known risk of contagion. No measure is therefore necessary for the child (neither isolation nor adaptation of activities) nor for the other members of the family.

How long are you contagious?

'Monkey pox is a contagious disease, confirms Professor Brugère-Picoux most not as much as chickenpox .' The person is contagious from the first signs of the disease until the complete healing of the skin, recalls the Mission nationale Coreb . That's about 3 weeks.

  Image of the different clinical phases of monkeypox
Image of the different clinical phases of monkeypox

What is the treatment for monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease whose patient usually heals spontaneously in two to three weeks. ' In the situation where a treatment of Monkeypox infection is to be considered during a severe form of the disease in particular and after collegial discussion, the tecovirimat would be the treatment first proposed ' indicates the High Council of Public Health ( HCSP ). Tecovirimat (SIGA Technologies) is an antiviral medicine in the form of capsules that will prevent the virus from spreading in the body. The recommended dosage for adults and children varies according to weight, specifies the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products ( ANSM ) :
► For patients 13 kg to less than 25 kg: 1 capsule administered every 12 hours
► For patients weighing 25 kg to less than 40 kg: 2 capsules administered every 12 hours
► For patients 40 kg and over: 3 capsules administered every 12 hours

The recommended treatment duration is 14 days . Tecovirimat capsules should be taken in the 30 minutes after a meal.

Monkey pox vaccine

Abolished since 1984, smallpox vaccination is back in France in the face of the emergence of cases of the Monkeypox virus responsible for monkeypox. Vaccination against monkeypox is offered for prevention to people most exposed to the virus or post-exposure to contact cases of an infected person. It's the smallpox vaccine Imvanex , produced by the Danish Bavarian Nordic Laboratory which is currently indicated in the fight against monkeypox. A thirty places offer vaccination in Ile-de-France.

What are the dangers of monkeypox?

The disease can be complicated by superinfection of skin lesions or respiratory disorders , digestive, ophthalmological or neurological. The WHO is particularly concerned about the risks posed by this virus in vulnerable people, especially the children, immunocompromised and the pregnant women . Professor Brugère-Picoux reassures 'It's a stable virus, a DNA virus, it does not mutate easily like an RNA virus (type le Sars-Cov-2 du Covid-19, editor's note)'.

What is the death rate from monkeypox?

'The rate of mortality during outbreaks of monkeypox has become established between 1% and 10% (3.6% for West African strain; 10.6% for Central African strain) , most of death occurring in young people “says the WHO.” The illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks. In Europe, 2 deaths in Spain, 1 in Belgium and 1 in the Czech Republic have been reported to date. In the world, we count 23 deaths.

How to protect yourself from monkeypox?

Since the disease is transmissible by contact with the lesions, it is necessary to avoid contact with the affected person and with what she may have touched (sheets, towels, clothes...). The infected person must isolate themselves. When a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, they must ' avoid contact with your pet as much as possible , ideally by having it guarded by another person during the time of isolation ' and ' before each contact with your animal, wash your hands, then wear gloves and a single-use mask ' recommended the National Health Security Agency ( Considered ) on June 16 who questioned the transmission of the virus from humans to animals. 'Compared to human smallpox, eradication measures may not be as effective with monkeypox due to viral reservoir in several wildlife populations in Africa ' says Professor Brugère-Picoux. Finally, vaccination against smallpox provided cross-protection against monkeypox virus estimated at 85%.

What is the origin of monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease that emerged in Africa . The first human cases were identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We recognize a zoonotic origin (transmission from animals (squirrel, Gambian rat in Africa...)) in most African cases. The emerging cases outside Africa since May 2022 (first case reported in England by the UKHSA the 7th) are linked to human-to-human contamination: “Investigations are ongoing, but the sudden appearance of monkeypox in many countries at the same time suggests that there may have been an undetected transmission for a certain time' explained the WHO on June 1. While animal-to-human transmission is accepted in Africa, these emerging cases are linked to human-to-human contamination, often observed in gay men or bisexual with genital and facial skin lesions . 'A sexual transmission can be suspected. Human-to-human transmission is possible through contact with bodily fluids, skin lesions (including scabs), the environment or objects contaminated by the patient. he can also be a contamination of nosocomial origin ' explained Professor Jeanne Brugère-Picoux, veterinarian and member of the National Academy of Medicine in a summary document of May 22, 2022. Contacted by telephone, she confirms that for the moment ' we are in total uncertainty, we have reason to worry but We have to wait and see if it continues or not. '. According to her 'only one complete epidemiological investigation will assess the risk linked to this virus emerging outside its usual geographical region (Africa, editor's note)' .

Thanks to Professor Jeanne Brugère-Picoux, veterinarian and member of the National Academy of Medicine. Interviewed in May 2022.

Sources :

- Monkeyox - Evolution of the course of action, expansion of vaccination and provision of Tecovirmiat. DGS, July 8, 2022

- Monkeypox virus (monkey pox) Patient Information Sheet, after diagnosis. Coreb mission. June 3, 2022.

- Monkey pox: risk of human-to-human spread since the description of nearly one hundred sporadic indigenous cases described simultaneously since May 6, 2022 in Europe, North America and Australia. Jeanne Brugère-Picoux. MAY 22, 2022.

- Epidemiological update: monkeypox outbreak, ECDC

- Monkeypox, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

- Orthopoxvirose simienne, WHO, 6 June 2018

- Pastor Institute

- Monkeypox, Public Health France

Source journaldesfemmes.fr