San Francisco, a city in the far west of the United States, and New York, in the far east, have declared a public health emergency due to the monkeypox outbreak. Kathy Hochul, governor of the state of New York, reported on social media when making the decision on Friday (29) that more than one in four cases of apepox in the United States are in her state. The New York Department of Health calculates the number of infected to the same date at more than 1300. There are 4600 cases in the country. A week ago, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency — which is not synonymous with a pandemic.
A day before the governor’s decision, State Health Secretary Mary Bassett had described the virus as an imminent threat to public health. In practice, the declaration means that local health departments will have access to additional reimbursement for efforts to contain the outbreak. The city of San Francisco has already received 8,200 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, one of those available on the market for immunization against the virus.
The disease, caused by a DNA virus that actually has wild African rodents as its main reservoir in nature, was named after primates because it was described in the 1950s after infecting laboratory monkeys. It also occurs in some monkeys in the wild. The outbreak exceeded 21,000 cases last Thursday (28), according to the data aggregator. Our World in Data, linked to researchers at the University of Oxford. The first case in the current outbreak was on May 6.
A study by an international collaborative group in the journal New England Journal of Medicinewhich aggregated a sample of more than 500 diagnosed infected between April and June, concluded that the outbreak to date is mostly among gay or bisexual men (98%). The authors suspect that 95% of transmission was through sexual contact, but there are other ways to catch the disease, such as large drops of saliva and close contact with wounds generated by the virus. A small number of children were infected, and the disease is of greater concern to them, as it causes more severe symptoms. The main symptoms are fever, headache, lethargy, body pain and inflammation in the lymph nodes, in addition to the characteristic skin rashes.
Monkeypox does not have the same transmission power as Covid-19, as it does not spread through the air. The main strategy of the virus genus to which it belongs — orthopoxviruses — is the viability of viral particles in the environment. Smallpox, which was wiped out by the global vaccination campaign nearly half a century ago, was caused by a virus that could survive between six months and a year in wound scabs kept out of direct sunlight and ambient temperatures below 30°C. One source claims he could stay viable for up to 13 years. It is information from a revision 2004 by biologists Bruno Walther and Paul Ewald.
As the eradication of smallpox indicates, apepox is vulnerable to immunization provided by vaccines — more so than Covid-19. The current outbreak has so far killed few people: about five in Africa, two young men in Spain, and a 41-year-old man from Belo Horizonte with compromised immunity and who suffered from lymphoma. Brazil currently has less than 1300 cases.