Madrid has already confirmed seven cases of the new "monkeypox", although there are more than twenty suspected cases. This new disease, which for the moment has not proved to be lethal, has been spreading through several European countries, as well as the United States, Canada and Chile in record time.
But what does this disease consist of? Is it really serious? The truth is that we still do not know exactly, but what scientists do say is that it is a mild disease in which most people recover in a few weeks. They also point out that the virus does not spread easily between people and indicate that the risk of infection is very low.
The first case of the disease was reported in the 1970s. In this case, it was a 9-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then monkeypox has been reported in other countries in Central and West Africa. But it is now, as it has made the leap to Europe that alarm bells are ringing.
Moreover, whether or not the disease is recognised as "monkeypox", monkeys are not the main carriers. According to the World Health Organisation, rodents such as rats and squirrels are the main carriers of the virus. In addition, eating undercooked meat from infected animals may be another risk factor.
At the moment, there are no specific vaccines or drugs to combat the disease, but they claim that the smallpox vaccine can prevent it by 85%. Although infections were initially limited to several African countries, 2013 was the first time the disease jumped to other continents as residents of the United States and the Middle East contracted the disease.
Transmission of the disease
Smallpox is transmitted through direct contact with the fluids of infected animals and can be passed from one person to another through skin wounds or fluids. They also indicate that it can be transmitted through the placenta of pregnant women to the foetus.
The WHO also indicates that the incubation period of this virus varies from 5 to 21 days, during which time the patient may develop headache, fever, muscle pain, weakness and swollen lymph nodes.
Subsequently, a rash appears on the skin starting from about the third day after the onset of fever, which disappears after 3 weeks. However, these symptoms remain mild in nature as the documented mortality rates do not exceed 10% and occur mostly among children as they appear to be the most susceptible population groups to this disease.
Spread in other countries
Regarding the current outbreaks in some countries in Europe and the United States, scientists do not know how the spread occurred. Some of the causes have been traced to sexual relationships, but it has not been classified as a sexually transmitted disease.
Two of the cases reported in Britain did not travel to any countries where the disease is endemic, meaning that they contracted the disease within the country through person-to-person transmission, as has happened in the United States.
At the moment there is no evidence that person-to-person transmission of the virus could lead to a pandemic, as has happened with the coronavirus. In this sense, for a disease to become a pandemic it requires that each infected person can transmit the virus to another person, which would not be the case with this type of smallpox.