Almost all animals, even seals, have poxvirus infections that cause smallpox

PAP: Monkeypox, which is mostly found in Central and West Africa, has been spreading around the world for several weeks now. This infection has already been diagnosed in more than 100 people on several continents outside Africa – in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. New cases of this infection are being reported every day and it looks like there will be more. It will probably reach Poland too, if it hasn’t already happened we just don’t know yet. What is the risk of monkey pox?

Prof. Włodzimierz Gut: It depends who we are talking about, because so far one group of people has been affected by this infection.

PAP: What?

Prof. WG: They are men who have sexual relations with men.

PAP: But the monkeypox virus can also attack other groups of people. It was the same with the HIV virus and AIDS, for years this germ has also been spreading among people who have heterosexual contacts.

Prof. WG: The monkeypox virus is spread through direct contact with an infected person. In addition, it is not such a terrible disease as it seemed, but it is also not very “fun” – it leaves clear marks on the body. However, there is a “but”.

PAP: What?

Prof. WG: Until now, it was about people who had contact with Africa and who dispersed in direct contact with a sick person. But also through contact with infected animals. Because monkeypox doesn’t just attack monkeys, it also affects other small African animals. When she was discovered in the United States in 2003, she was found to have moved from Africa (prairie dogs brought from Africa to Chicago – PAP). And now there is no such relationship … At least not yet.

PAP: Meanwhile, monkeypox is already present on several continents.

Prof. WG: More than a hundred infections is still not that much.

PAP: For now. What else does the “monkey” smallpox surprise us with?

Prof. WG: It’s interesting that the skin lesions that occur as a result of this infection are only in the genital area and most of the infected – let me remind you – had sexual contacts with other men.

PAP: Apparently you can also get infected through saliva.

Prof. WG: Yes, but from animals.

PAP: Not from people?

Prof. WG: Not really. Unless we kiss the sick person’s pimples. Something similar has already happened in our country, and that was in Wrocław, in 1963. Do you remember?

PAP: Yeah, I remember that. It was the last smallpox epidemic in Poland and probably one of the last in Europe. It broke out in the summer between July 15 and September 19.

Prof. WG: She was dragged to our country by a man who was in India and got infected even though he was vaccinated. In Poland, it was not immediately recognized that it was real smallpox, so a deceased nurse became infected. More than 70 people became infected at her funeral.

PAP: They kissed each other in condolence?

Prof. WG: Yes, when they said goodbye to her.

PAP: It’s easy to get smallpox, isn’t it?

Prof. WG: Exactly. This shows what smallpox can be, although it’s not that easy to get infected. Belgium has introduced 21 days of isolation for infected people, although there are not many infections in this country. So far, the highest number of monkey pox cases has been recorded in Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. What is happening now is somewhat reminiscent of the history of hepatitis A infection (hepatitis A) in Europe in men who have sex with men. From the normal number of 200 cases, the number of infections has risen in the short term to 3,000.

PAP: But hepatitis A is type A jaundice, usually it occurs due to oral fecal infection through gastrointestinal tract.

Prof. WG: Yes, that’s right. This shows how things can sometimes spread in strange ways, including through sexual contact with sick people.

PAP: The number of monkeypox infections may therefore continue to increase.

Prof. WG: And I ask again – in what groups of people? Because that’s the basic question.

PAP: This disease mainly affects men who have sexual relations with men…

Prof. WG: And bisexuals.

PAP: Exactly, other groups of people may also be at risk? Especially if they kiss infected people.

Prof. WG: Usually contagiousness occurs when an infected person already has symptoms.

PAP: Are there any skin symptoms, such as a rash?

Prof. WG: Yes. That is why I emphasize that it is usually difficult to get infected. However, because viremia precedes contagiousness, sometimes infection can occur before symptoms develop.

PAP: Why – at least for now – is this group of people being attacked?

Prof. WG: We still don’t know. First contact with Africa at the time of infection and transmission has not been established. Therefore, we do not know whether patient zero contracted the infection on this continent.

PAP: And how is vaccination against smallpox? Some people have been vaccinated against this disease in the past, but when it was eradicated in 1980, these vaccinations were discontinued. Therefore, not everyone is immune to smallpox, but also indirectly to monkeypox.

Prof. WG: In the past, the basic vaccine was the so-called cow and vaccinated people are vaccinated.

PAP: For life?

Prof. WG: It’s hard to define.

PAP: But certainly for a long time.

Prof. WG: Yes, certainly. Children were always vaccinated because they tolerated the vaccine well, the so-called cow. It was worse when vaccinating adults who had not been vaccinated in their youth. We found out when a vaccination campaign was carried out during the smallpox epidemic in Wrocław. About as many people died of smallpox then as after the vaccination.

PAP: Anti-vaccinations will certainly be happy.

Prof. WG: No, no, because nobody comes back to the cow from the cow, besides, many millions of people were vaccinated then.

PAP: Do we have other, safe vaccines for smallpox that can at least partially protect against monkeypox?

Prof. WG: Several such vaccines have been developed and they have been very interesting since the hysteria started over the fear that smallpox could be used as a biological weapon. And these vaccines shouldn’t have the effect of vaccinia.

PAP: Are we talking about side effects?

Prof. WG: Yes. One of these vaccines consists of something that infects a cell and acts like a live vaccine and is also a killed vaccine.

PAP: Aren’t you afraid of a greater spread of monkey pox?

Prof. WG: Obviously, this virus can spread in certain environments, especially since there is some risk from bisexuals.

PAP: Can they pass the infection on to other groups of people?

Prof. WG: Yes.

PAP: Some countries are already collecting smallpox vaccines just in case. Will they be offered if there are outbreaks?

Prof. WG: For now it is enough to isolate people infected with the virus, so that they do not infect others, as happened in Belgium. Provided, of course, that the disease is diagnosed on time. Which is not so easy, because how many doctors have seen a sick person with smallpox?

PAP: And skin rashes? This is quite a distinctive and visible change.

Prof. WG: In Wrocław, almost 60 years ago, smallpox was not immediately diagnosed.

PAP: When did it happen?

Prof. WG: Then, after the funeral of the above-mentioned nurse, the doctors said, maybe it was smallpox?

PAP: Is there monkey pox in Poland already, but no one has found it yet?

Prof. WG: No. Anyway, we have other smallpox – cat pox happens from time to time.

PAP: I turn into ears.

Prof. WG: Almost all animals – not to mention the tropical ones – even seals have infections with smallpox viruses. And there are two smallpox viruses in humans. One is quite rarely the so-called molluscum contagiosum and the other is oral virus. However, these infections are so sporadic that they are not recorded even though they are known to be there.

PAP: Are they all related to the smallpox virus?

Prof. WG: They are a bit further from him.

PAP: How far? Closer to the usual chicken pox?

Prof. WG: No, chickenpox is a completely different virus, I don’t like the name at all, especially since not every rash is smallpox. This is not smallpox, the more correct popular name is – air rifle.

PAP: And cat pox? How often does it happen?

Prof. WG: Usually once a year, sometimes twice or not at all. These are just isolated cases. The virus that causes it is difficult to distinguish from vaccinia (vaccinia virus). It is even suspected that in the past it was cats that contracted vaccinia from us.

PAP: Is it a common infection in cats?

Prof. WG: No. But it does happen. (DAD)

Leave a Comment