State Health authorities in Rio de Janeiro Monday confirmed the second local death of a monkeypox patient. It was a 31-year-old man who had been hospitalized for over a month.
The Health Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro (SES-RJ) confirmed the resident of Mesquita had been hospitalized since Aug. 31 at the National Institute of Infectology of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) on August 31, from where he had been transferred to the São Sebastião State Institute of Infectology where he eventually died.
According to SES-RJ, the man had low immunity and comorbidities that aggravated the disease. He was treated with the experimental drug tecovirimat, which resulted in partial improvement of the lesions, but on Saturday he suffered respiratory arrest and died.
Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa and has become a health concern due to its spread to several countries since May. The disease is caused by a poxvirus from the orthopoxvirus subgroup, just like other diseases such as cowpox and human smallpox, eradicated in Brazil in 1980 after massive vaccination campaigns.
The malady was first described in 1958. At that time, monkeys were also observed to be affected and die. Hence the name of the disease. However, in the transmission cycle, monkeys are victims just like humans. In nature, wild rodents probably represent the animal reservoir of the virus.
Transmission among humans occurs through direct contact such as kissing or hugging, or through infectious wounds, scabs, or body fluids, as well as respiratory secretions. The most characteristic symptom is the formation of painful rashes and nodules on the skin. Besides these lesions, fever, chills, headaches, muscle pain, and weakness can also occur.
According to the SES-RJ, 1,064 cases have already been confirmed statewide and 507 are considered probable or suspected. According to Friday's bulletin released by the federal Health Ministry, Brazil has 7,869 confirmed occurrences and 4,905 suspected ones with -until then- only two deaths recorded: one in Minas Gerais and one in Rio de Janeiro.
Worldwide, more than 61,000 cases and 23 deaths have been reported. In July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.
Although the lethality rate is low and the body's own defenses are usually able to fight and eliminate the virus, there is a risk of worsening, especially for immunosuppressed people with HIV/AIDS, transplanted patients, people with autoimmune diseases, pregnant and lactating women, children under 8 years old, and patients with leukemia, lymphoma, or metastasis. As prevention, the affected person should stay isolated until all wounds have healed. It is also recommended to avoid contact with any material that has been used by an infected person.
Vaccines for human smallpox are effective against the monkeypox outbreak, but there are no plans for a mass immunization campaign as yet, given the need to produce doses on a global scale. As recommended by the WHO, health professionals and laboratory researchers should have priority. In August, Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) greenlighted importing the drug to Brazil.
(Source: Agencia Brasil)