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Monkeypox: recognizing the symptoms and having good reflexes

 Monkeypox: recognizing the symptoms and having good reflexes

Monkeypox: recognizing the symptoms and having good reflexes

How do you know if you have a monkeypox? How can you test yourself? What reflexes should you have if you are a contact case? Now that the WHO has activated an alert level, a doctor takes stock.

The disease is known as "monkeypox", "simian pox" or "monkeypox infection".: so far, this contagious disease (caused by the monkey orthoptera virus) has affected about 1 500 people in France, mainly in the Île-de-France region. The WHO Director-General declared on Saturday that there is an international public health emergency related to monkeypox.

How do I know if I have a monkeypox?

"The first symptoms of monkeypox appear 5 to 21 days after contact with a sick person," explains Dr. Adrien Dereix, Medical Director of the International Medical Center (CMI) and Medical Director of the International Vaccination Center (CVI).

Initially, a fairly high fever (around 39°C) develops and usually lasts from 1 to 3 days. It may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck, armpits, or groin (cervical, axillary, and/or inguinal adenopathy), sore throat, aches, unusual fatigue, and/or cough.

After a few days, pimples appear, preferably on the face, hands, feet, and/or genitals: at first, they are red, but gradually turn into blisters, i.e. they fill with a liquid that is first transparent (like water) and then yellowish.

"It is similar to chickenpox, but the characteristic pimples appear in a single outbreak and on very specific parts of the body," says Dr. Adrien Dereix. These pimples last two to three weeks before crusting over and disappearing.

I could have chickenpox, what should I do?

"If you are not sure, if you have symptoms that could indicate a monkeypox infection, if you have been in contact with someone who has had the disease, make an appointment with your doctor so that he or she can prescribe a diagnostic test," advises Dr. Adrien Dereix.

This test (performed in the hospital) consists of taking a small amount of fluid from the pimples on the hands, feet, face, or genitals. In the case of mucosal lesions, the sample can also be taken from the ENT area (throat, mouth).

"Above all, one should not get carried away, because the disease can become complicated in high-risk persons (persons with a weakened immune system, persons undergoing chemotherapy, persons with untreated HIV infection, children, pregnant women, etc.): there can be a lung or brain infarction (encephalitis) or even a bacterial superinfection of the pimples," the physician points out.

While awaiting the results of the tests (or if you do not yet have any grains to test), isolation is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus: "Three weeks of isolation are recommended".

Monkeypox: how to treat it?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for monkeypox: "To relieve pain and fever, paracetamol is recommended, and to avoid bacterial superinfection, frequent and thorough cleaning of skin lesions (pimples) with soap and water or an antiseptic solution is recommended," explains Dr. Adrien Dereix.

In some cases, antihistamines may be prescribed to relieve itching.

Monkeys. I am a contact case, what should I do?

Monkeypox is transmitted by "close and fairly prolonged" contact with the liquid that fills the pimples: "Therefore, the patient is usually infected for two to three weeks, which is the time it takes for the pimples to dry out," explains Dr. Adrien Dereix.

Although this condition is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD), sexual intercourse can lead to contagion because there is contact with the hands, genitals, and/or face of the affected person. "Monkeypox is currently spreading among homosexuals and transsexuals, but not only among them," says the expert. Anyone can be affected.

"If you come into contact with a person infected with monkeypox, you can get vaccinated: unlike Covid-19, monkeypox has a long incubation period, which can prepare the immune system to reduce the risk of complications or even prevent the development of the disease," explains Dr. Dereix.

Ideally, the vaccination should be given within four days: "the monkey vaccine is very effective after one week to ten days. However, a three-week isolation period is required.


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