Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus (Monkeypox virus, MPXV), which occurs in some species of animals and in humans. The initial symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes and feeling tired. This is followed by a rash in the form of blisters and then scabs. The time lag between infection and the first symptoms is approximately 10 days, and symptoms persist for 2-4 weeks. The disease can be prevented with the smallpox vaccine, which has been shown to be at least 85% effective in Africa. In the Czech Republic (and in the rest of the world), only people born before 1980 have this vaccination, because after the eradication of smallpox, widespread vaccination was stopped at that time. In 2022, everyone without a smallpox vaccination, i.e. younger than 42 years, is thus at risk. There are not yet sufficient reasons to resume widespread vaccination. Various antiviral drugs are used for treatment, most often Tecovirimat.
Course and spread of the disease
Monkey pox usually has a mild course in humans and, even in untreated patients, rarely ends in death. Although their virus spreads between people and through the air, it is not a respiratory disease and can be prevented by following basic hygiene rules. The spread of the virus is partly tied to certain groups of the population - such as the gay community - for which the risk of infection is higher, but it does not avoid others.
The monkeypox virus belongs to the group of orthopoxviruses. It is closely related to the varicella and cowpox viruses. Therefore, only vaccination against smallpox protects against infection, which, however, was largely discontinued after its eradication in 1980. On the other hand, chickenpox (or vaccination against smallpox) does not protect against the disease (they only share the name, manifestation - blisters - and viral origin). .
The name monkeypox comes from the first demonstration of the virus in monkeys imported to Denmark in 1958. It was later discovered that monkeys are not carriers and are only susceptible to the virus, with the virus spreading from small mammals (squirrels, rodents, rats, etc.). The first case of transmission to humans was in 1970 in the Congo. The vast majority of cases in the 20th and 21st centuries thus fall on the Congo.
The first outbreak in the US was in 2003 from the small animal trade of rodents imported from Ghana. A larger number of infected children were reported in the US in 2003, with about 20% having serious complications but none dying (dogs were the reservoir).
In 2022, there was community transmission outside of Africa, which began in May 2022 in Britain and was subsequently confirmed in Europe, North America, Australia and Israel. Samples taken from some patients showed up to 50 mutations (an unexpectedly high number) against a similar variant of the virus that made its way from West Africa to Britain, Israel and Singapore in 2018. To a greater extent, the spread outside of Africa is apparently related to the relationships of bisexual and homosexual men. The virus is a direct descendant of the 2017 virus from Nigeria. The first recorded case of monkeypox in the Czech Republic was confirmed on May 24, 2022 in a patient at the Central Military Hospital in Prague. infections. The second confirmed case was recorded the next day, the infected person was in contact with the first recorded patient in the Czech Republic with this disease. One of the other three newly confirmed cases of this disease was also in contact with the infected person, and as before, this time it was also a variant belonging to West African groups