Smallpox is one of the deadliest of all, and studies of Egyptian mummies suggest it may have been circulating among us for at least 3,000 years.
In the twentieth century alone, it is estimated that smallpox killed about 300 million people.
Fortunately, smallpox became the first disease in history to be eradicated more than 40 years ago, when the World Health Organization (WHO)Who is the) Certificate expired in 1980 after a successful global vaccination campaign.
Now, monkeypox is causing the largest outbreak of the disease ever in Europe. Scientists are investigating what is happening.
on time, Medical authorities claim that the chances of uncontrolled transmission are low And to point out that the degree of its lethality is far from that caused by smallpox.
Experts point out that monkeypox is much milder and less contagious than the human version of the disease.
Next, understand the differences between the two viruses that belong to the same family of viruses. orthoboxvirus:
How deadly is monkeypox?
This is the main question that many ask themselves when they hear about an unknown disease. Especially if you share her name with one of the deadliest names in history.
Raul Rivas Gonzalez, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Salamanca in Spainto BBC News Mundo (the BBC’s Spanish-language news service).
Smallpox had two versions: smallpox large and smallpox. The largest was the deadliest – with a death rate of 30% of cases. Smaller causes milder disease and rarely death.
Something similar is happening with monkeypox, albeit with lower mortality rates. There are two versions: West Africa and Central Africa.
“West Africa is the mildest, with a mortality rate of 1% to 10%, and appears to be the cause of the outbreak in Europe,” says Rivas. “One in Central Africa, on the other hand, is more virulent and dangerous and can kill about 20% of those infected,” he adds.
Jacob Lorenzo Morales, Director of the University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of the Canary Islands, in Spainshows that the highest levels of homicide are concentrated in certain population groups.
“Based on the data we’ve seen, most deaths occur in very poor rural areas of Africa and, in general, in many children because their immune systems are compromised,” he told BBC News Mundo.
Unlike coronavirus or even smallpox, where the pathogen is highly contagious, Monkeypox is less contagious.
“It is a virus that transmits well between animals, but when it is transmitted from animal to human, it is not very transmissible,” says Lorenzo Morales.
Medical officials note that there is still a lot of information about potential human-to-human transmission routes in current outbreaks.
As far as is now known, the virus is transmitted mainly through close contact and exchange of body fluids. Many cases in Europe appear to be linked to sexual transmission.
But all possible methods are being studied, such as indirect transmission through contaminated objects and even aerosols.
“Smallpox was eradicated in a similar way, but infection between humans was much easier,” recalls Lorenzo Morales, who does not rule out that in the future smallpox will become more effective in its mode of transmission.
Raul Rivas explains that this type of monkeypox is a very stable virus and is not very different. But Morales says, “This is a relatively new disease, which is getting used to living among us, and which is not yet specialized in our reproduction and infecting us.”
Human smallpox can only be transmitted between humans. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no scientific evidence that smallpox can be transmitted by insects or other animals.
The origin of smallpox is unknown. In the case of monkeypox, it was so named because it was discovered in monkey colonies conducted for research in 1958.
In both diseases, the clinical picture begins in a similar way, although it is slightly milder in monkeypox.
“As with most infections, it begins with fever and body discomfort, fatigue, muscle aches and sore throat are also common,” Rivas describes.
In addition, in both diseases, clear cutaneous blisters (blisters on the skin) also appear, which can leave visible scars on the patient’s skin.
The body of an unidentified man bearing signs of monkeypox (Photo: CDC/Brian WJ Mahy/Handout via REUTERS)
“With the passage of time, Monkeypox often causes swollen lymph nodes, in the cervix, maxilla, axillae, and groin. “It didn’t happen with smallpox,” Rivas says.
The incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7 to 14 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days.
In the case of smallpox, the incubation period can last between 7 and 19 days, although the average duration was between 10 and 14 days.
Smallpox was eradicated thanks to a historic vaccination campaign That put an end to thousands of years of pathogen-related deaths.
Because monkeypox virus is related to human smallpox, the smallpox vaccine has also been shown to be effective in both diseases.
In this case, people over 55 who were vaccinated against smallpox before it was eradicated may have significant immunity to monkeypox.
Available treatments are primarily symptomatic. Lorenzo Morales says there is no specific treatment for this disease.
“Since it is one of the pathogens that has primarily affected Africa rather than developed countries, not enough is being invested in the search for treatment,” he says.
However, there is a very big difference between monkeypox and that which has been eradicated: science and knowledge have advanced in recent years.
For hundreds of years, smallpox claimed lives without humanity understanding what was happening.
“Monkeypox is a disease we know very well,” Rivas says. “It’s probably something new to the general public, but it was discovered in 1958. It’s also well-studied because it’s very similar to human smallpox.”
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