Mexico on Saturday reported the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the country, according to deputy health secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell.
The patient was a 50-year-old permanent resident of New York who is being treated in Mexico City, Lopez-Gatell said on Twitter.
“He was probably infected in the Netherlands,” Lopez-Gatell wrote, adding that the patient was being isolated and was in stable condition.
On Friday, Argentina became the first Latin American country to report a case of monkeypox.
Around 20 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 200 confirmed or suspected infections mostly in Europe.
The outbreaks are raising alarm because monkeypox, which spreads through close contact and was first found in monkeys, mostly occurs in West and Central Africa, and only very occasionally spreads elsewhere.
Monkeypox is transmitted from person to person by direct contact. It is not spread by air, water, or food. The efficiency of contagion is low, so there are generally isolated cases or small outbreaks, not generalized epidemics,” Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion in Mexico, Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez warned through social networks.
According to the World Health Organization ( WHO ), in most cases, the symptoms disappear on their own in a few weeks, although there are always people who may have complications.
Can people die from monkeypox?
The answer is yes, although the percentage is very low so far. According to research, newborns, children, and people with immunodeficiencies may be at risk for more severe symptoms and death from the disease.
WHO reports reveal that between 3 and 6% of infections identified where monkeypox is endemic have resulted in deaths.
Additionally, more serious complications include skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye infections that can lead to vision loss.
Studies have shown that many of the cases are children or people who may have other health conditions.
It will also be necessary to take into account that these figures could be overestimated because the accounting of cases in endemic countries is limited.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Specialists revealed that the general symptoms are: fever, muscle aches, severe headache, swollen lymph nodes, rashes or skin lesions, and low energy.
An important point about the malaise is that the skin rashes usually appear between the first and third day of the onset of the fever.
The WHO reported that in 1980 smallpox became the first disease to be eradicated and therefore vaccination against it was stopped.
In that sense, the youngest are more likely to contract it. However, people who have been vaccinated against smallpox should also take precautions to protect themselves and others.
More severe and life-threatening symptoms may be experienced by newborns, children, and people with underlying immunodeficiencies. Health workers are also at high risk of contagion due to prolonged exposure to the virus.
Avoiding contagion of monkeypox
Francisco Monroy López, an expert from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics (FMVZ) of the UNAM, pointed out that it is necessary that people take into account some considerations so as not to get infected.
In the first place, the specialist pointed out that this virus is not prone to mutate, that is, it is stable and can adapt to new conditions. To understand why the disease occurs in conditions that it did not have before, there are three main factors.
“One has to do with the agent, that is, the virus that could be adapting better to different situations; susceptible individuals, because the percentage of the population immunized is less than 30 percent (the vaccine against human smallpox stopped being applied when the disease was declared eradicated, in 1980), and this means that a similar virus, such as the monkey virus, can transmit to the population.”
He pointed out that the third is the environment since it could have favorable circumstances for the disease to spread. “The natural way to acquire the virus is by contact with reservoirs, rodents, or endemic animals. We must also think that there is illegal trade in exotic species on an international scale, from which infections could occur. It can be one of those factors, two of them, or a combination of all, the cause of what is happening.”
So far there is no treatment against the virus, only some antivirals are being tested to see if they are effective in improving patients.
Monroy López considered that the population should be alert to these symptoms: headache, muscle pain, and fever. If they occur, you should see a doctor.
“The main care is isolation, a strict quarantine, and the monitoring of the people with whom the patient had contact so that they also isolate themselves.”
Those who must travel to countries where cases have occurred should take precautions and avoid contact with other people. The measures that were implemented with COVID-19 continue to be just as valid against monkeypox.
“Use face masks, hand washing, and healthy distance. The latter helps reduce the risk of acquiring this disease to almost zero. In addition, we must be attentive to the indications that the authorities can provide in this regard, go to reliable sources of information, such as the World Health Organization, and avoid being in contact with or acquiring wild or exotic fauna.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Health should already have a study related to the disease and an emergency plan so that it immediately prevents the disease from advancing among the population and establish sanitary fences to contain it.
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