In London, a man with “monkey pox”: what is this disease?

A man has just been diagnosed with monkeypox in the UK. Should we be worried about a potential epidemic?

The British health safety agency has just announced the detection of a case of monkeypox in a man in London, CNN reported. He probably would have contracted it during a stay in Africa, Nigeria. The latter is treated and isolated in the hospital. What is this disease? Should we fear a potential epidemic? Explanations.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Monkeypox was discovered in the 1970s after human smallpox was eradicated from the vaccine. At this time, there has been a resurgence of cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, recalls the Pasteur Institute. The researchers then “found that the new cases were cases of monkeypox, caused by small outbreaks of local transmission that did not reach the entire population.” This pathology is also called “simian orthopoxvirus” or “mokey pox”a zoonosis caused by the simian orthopoxvirus.

The World Health Organization notes for its part: “The clinical presentation is similar to that observed in patients with previously smallpox, but less severe. “The incubation period varies from 6 to 16 days (with a maximum of 21 days).

There are generally two periods: a first so-called “invasive” characterized by fever, severe headaches, swollen glands, muscle and back pain, lack of energy. Then it comes a rash (usually starts with the face, then the rest of the body is affected). “The rash evolves in about ten days from maculo-papules (flattened base lesions) to vesicles (small fluid-filled blisters), then pustules and finally scabs. The complete disappearance of these can take up to three weeks “says the WHO.

What treatments? What risks?

Mortality rate in monkeypox outbreaks is 1-10%but with the right treatment, most patients recover, “recalls the WHO. There is no specific treatment, nor a particular vaccine. That said, vaccination against human smallpox is also effective against the form transmitted by monkeys, approximately. ‘85%.

Typically, this form of smallpox heals spontaneously, between 14 and 21 days.. But in children, some severe cases have been registered. In the event of symptoms or exposure, it is therefore important to seek medical attention in order to be monitored if the patient’s condition worsens.

A low epidemic threshold

The Pasteur Institute specifies this the risk of international spread is limited. Studies have shown that human-to-human transmission was low, the average number of cases caused by an infected subject (called R0) would be less than 1. WHO states: “Secondary, ie human-to-human, transmission can result from close contact with infected secretions of the respiratory tractskin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated with biological fluids or materials from a patient’s lesions.

This isn’t the first time the virus has been reported outside of Central and West Africa. In 2003, cases had been discovered in the United States. “Most of the patients had been in contact with domestic prairie dogs infected with imported African rodents,” WHO said. In addition, the British authorities have contacted all the people with whom the patient has been in contact so that they can be examined and take the necessary precautions.


  • Monkeypox, CHI.
  • Monkeypox: Epidemic potential increases as herd immunity against viruses responsible for human smallpox decreases, Institut Pasteur, September 2020.
  • Rare case of monkeypox reported in England, says UKHSA, CNN, May 8, 2022.

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