should gay and bi men be concerned?

After two years of health crisis associated with Covid-19, the media’s irruption of a new virus with an alarming name, monkey pox, is all the more worrying in the LGBT community as rumors are spreading. But there is no need to panic.

It is the new virus that is making headlines. A first detected case of “monkey cups” was confirmed on Friday 20 May in France. Several dozen cases have been reported since the beginning of the month in Europe (UK, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Italy) and in North America (Canada and USA); surprising as it is the origin of a rare disease, and which usually circulates in central and western Africa. In addition to its alarming name, which combines a disease associated with distant centuries and an animal reference, should we be concerned? We take stock of your questions.

Where do monkey cups come from?

Monkey smallpox, or “simian orthopoxvirus”, was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), in a 9-year-old boy living in an area where smallpox had been eliminated since 1968. is a rare disease if the pathogen can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. When the virus reaches humans, it is mainly from various wild animals, rodents or primates for example. Since 1970, human cases of monkey poop have been reported in ten African countries.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

After infection, the incubation period for monkey cups usually lasts from 5 to 21 days. Once the disease is declared, its symptoms, in less severe cases, are similar to those previously observed in people suffering from smallpox, hence its name. During the first five days, they cover fever (1 to 3 days), headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue. Then rashes and pustules can occur, often on the face, even palms and soles of the feet, which can also spread to the mucous membranes of the mouth and genitals.

How are monkey cups treated?

There is no cure for this viral infection. Monkey cups usually disappear spontaneously after 2 to 3 weeks. Severe cases, rare, occur more frequently in children or humans immunocompromised and is related to the extent of exposure to the virus, the patient’s state of health and the severity of complications.

Is there a vaccine?

There is also no specific vaccine against monkey pox, but outbreaks can be limited, says the WHO. Vaccination against smallpox has previously been shown to be 85% effective in prevention, but this vaccine is no longer available to the public after its production was discontinued following the global eradication of smallpox. “The good news is that the smallpox vaccine works against smallpox; the bad news is that most people under 45 are not vaccinated.”summed up epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding in a tweet.

Is it a serious illness?

According to the epidemics, the mortality rate could vary enormously, but it remained below 10% in all the documented cases, mainly in young children. “The West African tribe from which British cases suffer is estimated to have a mortality rate of around 1%. There is also a tribe found in the Congo region which can be fatal in 10% of cases, but UK cases do not have this burden. “, said Simon Clarke, professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, with the organization Science Media Center (SMC). In fact, at this stage, The cases reported in Europe are mostly mild and there are no reported deaths.

How did it arrive in Europe and France?

The virus was first seen on the European continent on May 6 in the UK by a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria. An appearance outside the African continent, which took place for the first time in the spring of 2003, where cases were also confirmed in the United States. Since 2017, a few imported cases, particularly from Nigeria, have been sporadically identified in several countries, particularly in the United Kingdom, without giving rise to epidemics.

Since May 14, nine cases have been identified in the UK, five in Portugal, two in Canada, one in Canada USA, one in Italy, two in Belgium and one in Sweden. In France, the first confirmed case was discovered on Thursday 19 May in the Ile-de-France region. He is a 29-year-old man with no history of traveling to a country where the virus is circulating. As soon as his infection was suspected, this person was taken care of and in the absence of seriousness he has since been isolated in his home. The individuals who have been in close contact with this patient are currently being identified. They will receive information from the health authorities on what to do to limit the spread of the virus.

Will monkey pox create a new epidemic?

“Recently, the warning is relatively different: the reports that have been made correspond to cases of people who have not traveled to the countries where the virus normally circulates and who have not had contact with people returning from these countries. “, stressed this Friday under a press release Alexandra Mailles, epidemiologist at Public Health France. This connection is one “unprecedented situation, which we regard as a warning”, she said. Suspected cases are assessed in many countries, and the situation is therefore changing very quickly, the health authorities have warned. But it is still too early to say what will happen next.

“The transmissibility of the virus is less than Covid.”

How to catch monkey cups?

Infection in the first cases is due to direct contact with blood, body fluids or skin or mucosal lesions from infected animals. Secondary, ie. human-to-human transmission may be due to close contact with infected airways secretions, skin lesions of an infected individual, or objects that have recently been contaminated with biological fluids (blood, saliva), or material from a patient’s lesions. You may also become contaminated by contact with the patient’s surroundings (bedding, clothing, crockery, towels).

Unlike Covid-19, transmission from one human to another is limited, the World Health Organization (WHO) assures. “Virus transmissibility is less than Covid”, confirmed Alexandra Mailles, from Public Health France. In addition, she said, “unlike what happens to the Covid virus, an infected person is not contagious until the symptoms begin“.

Is this a new STI?

Contrary to what some rumors say, it is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the true sense of the word. Since monkey cups can be transmitted through saliva, intercourse with an infected person can transmit it, but it is not necessary. “It is probably too early to draw conclusions about the mode of infection or to assume that sexual activity was necessary for infection”warned Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, after the WHO on Monday stated that it was very interested in the fact that some of the cases in the UK appear to have been transmitted within the gay community.

“MSM, men who have sex with men, represent a significant, but not exclusive, portion of the cases currently identified.”

Are gay and bisexual men more vulnerable?

Here, too, information from the WHO, which reports a significant number of contaminations observed among men having sex with other men (MSM), has opened the door to a wide range of rumors. “MSM, men who have sex with men, represent a large, but not exclusive, part of the cases currently being registered. It is too early to understand the reasons. It could be the simple fact that the warning was first given in this community and therefore several tests were performed“, Tempered Alexandre Mailles, a specialist in infectious diseases at Public Health France, on Friday during his press conference.

Should we be worried?

“The intensity of the signal is slightly out of proportion to what we know about the severity of the pathology”, reassures us Michel Ohayon, physician and founder of 190, a Parisian sexual health center specializing in gay and LGBT health. And to insist on it “transfer does not happen through sex, but through intimacy”.

What to do in case of symptoms?

If symptoms occur, it is imperative to isolate yourself and wear a mask, Public Health France said. And of course contact your doctor.

Also read:

Image Credit: Unsplash

Leave a Comment