Covid-19 is over. Well, OK, it’s not really finished in fact, but it’s still going a little better, and suddenly we talk about it a lot less. The real star of the moment, the fashionable epidemic, the one everyone is fighting over, is monkeypox. An extremely classy name for a premium disease. But what is hidden behind this exotic name? Is it a dangerous disease? Can we find it at our newsstand? Do we have to burn all the monkeys on the planet to save humanity? I will try to answer these questions in simple words.
1. Its real name is Simian Orthopoxvirus
“Simian” means that it comes from the monkey, and the orthopox virus is a type of virus (the same type as that of smallpox, this disease which harmed humanity until the late 18th century). That’s it, it’s quite simple. At the same time we don’t need to complicate everything either, life is already complicated enough as it is if you ask me.
2. Monkeypox has nothing to do with Covid-19
Why specify it then, since there are lots of different diseases? Why don’t I tell you “monkey pox has nothing to do with gastro”? Well, simply because we’ve only been talking about Covid-19 for the past two years, so it’s always good to clear things up: the monkeypox epidemic is not linked to that of Covid-19. Whether you like it or not. But at the same time I don’t see why you wouldn’t like it.
3. The disease is not new
It dates rather from the day before yesterday since the first human case detected dates back to 1970. That too is good to specify, and it is rather reassuring: unlike Covid-19, we are facing a disease that we already knows. You don’t have to drag scientists out of bed and ask them to work on a vaccine right away. Yes, go back to sleep scientists, we don’t need you right now.
4. She didn’t come from the monkey
Yes, the disappointment is great, but the disease was only called “monkey pox” because the first cases were discovered in 1958 in monkeys. In reality, it is mainly rodents that transmit the virus. No need to knock out all the monkeys on the planet, then.
5. Monkeypox is transmitted through fluids
Infection occurs when one is in contact with blood, biological fluids or mucous membranes of infected rodents. Afterwards, there can also be transmissions between humans, during close (or even very close) contact, but it is a little rarer. Airway droplet transmission also exists, but in this case you have to have really prolonged face-to-face contact. Nothing to do with the mode of transmission of Covid-19 which is much faster. Basically, no need to freak out if you found yourself 3 minutes next to someone with monkeypox. Everything is fine.
6. Symptoms are similar to smallpox
And they are very unfriendly. We start with fever, fatigue, severe headaches and body aches. Then, after a few days, lesions in the form of bumps filled with yellow fluid form on a good part of the body before becoming scabs. It’s not jojo, and it can leave traces even after the patient has healed. I personally have very little desire to catch this disease.
7. The risks of death are rather low
The fatality rate of the disease would be between 1 and 10% – 10% being a fairly high estimate anyway. Monkeypox is much less lethal than historic smallpox, and it kills mostly young children or immunocompromised people. The other people heal naturally without too many problems. So you can take a breather. Unless you’re a young child or an immunocompromised person (but hey, don’t stress too much either).
8. There is no cure, but there is a vaccine
Finally, to be more specific, there is a vaccine against smallpox, and it is 85% effective against the monkeypox virus, which is not bad enough. The only small problem is that it hasn’t been compulsory since 1979 in France because we had eradicated smallpox, and we even stopped producing it. But what is reassuring is that we can produce it again at any time in the event of a problem because we were smart enough to keep the recipe in a drawer. For once, we were smart.
9. The epidemic is not very widespread at the moment
If we are talking about monkeypox at the moment, it is because several dozen cases have recently been identified in America, Australia and Europe, particularly among people who have not set foot in countries where the virus usually circulates, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. In short, it is a bit worrying, but we are not yet talking about a real epidemic. We are more at the “surveillance” stage, and we already know that the virus is transmitted much less easily than a Covid-19. Not enough to start barricading yourself at home again, then. Immediately cancel this order of 30 cases of wine, we are not going to reconfine you.