- BBC News World
Since May 2022, monkeypox outbreaks have appeared in several countries where the infection had not previously been seen.
This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
According to the WHO, until July 23 more than 16,0000 cases have been reported in 75 countries and five people have died from the infection.
Monkeypox is caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox, although it is much less serious and experts say your chances of infection are low.
Until now, efforts to contain the spread of the disease have focused on isolating and treating cases and contact tracing.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines for monkeypox virus infections.
But because the monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, several countries are using antiviral drugs and vaccines that were developed to protect against smallpox.
As indicated by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “when administered appropriately before or after recent exposure (to the virus), vaccines can be effective tools to protect people against the disease by monkey pox”.
In the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and other countries JYNNEOS vaccine has been approved for use (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex), against monkeypox infection.
It is a vaccine developed to protection against smallpox in people over 18 years of age.
This vaccine contains a modified live form of the smallpox virus called modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA).
Another monkeypox vaccine, ACAM2000, a “second generation” vaccine developed for smallpox, has also been approved for use in the United States.
But it, the CDC says, shouldn’t be used in people who have certain health conditions, such as a weakened immune system, skin conditions like atopic dermatitis/eczema, or pregnancy.
The CDC stresses, however, that “no data are yet available on the efficacy of these two vaccines in the current outbreak” of monkeypox.
Currently, however, there is a limited supply of JYNNEOS and in several countries it is only being offered to some high-risk close contacts of infected people.
The WHO notes that some people who received smallpox vaccines may also have certain levels of immunity, although in many countries this vaccination was suspended almost 40 years ago when the disease was considered eradicated.
Nor do they existspecific treatments for infections by the monkeypox virus.
The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom indicates that “the disease is usually mild and the majority of those infected recover within a few weeks without treatment”.
Still, there may be more severe cases that require hospitalization. And the risk may be greater for the elderly, young children, and people who are taking medications that affect their immune system.
For cases that require treatment, the CDC says that, like vaccines, antiviral drugs developed to protect against smallpox can be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.
“Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get seriously ill, such as patients with weakened immune systems,” the CDC says.
They add that “if you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your health care provider, even if you don’t think you’ve had contact with someone who has monkeypox.”
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