Monkeypox: "It is necessary to consult for skin lesions, even if they are few"

Thursday, August 04, 2022 | 6:11 p.m.

The Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, indicated this Thursday that it is key to stop the spread of monkeypox, which has 37 cases in Argentina, “to avoid physical contact with people diagnosed or with skin lesions of unknown origin,” as well as “consult if one is present in the body, however minimal it may be.”

“The particularity of this global health emergency is that it happens after a pandemic, so it is very important to be able to communicate well what is happening and apply the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic,” Vizzotti said in a meeting with the Argentine Network of Scientific Journalism (RAdPC).

And he continued: “Not all emergencies are the same, not all diseases are the same and we are facing a completely different scenario than Covid, although the information is also dynamic.”

During the meeting, the national director of Epidemiology and Strategic Information, AnalĂ­a Rearte, explained that 37 cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in Argentina to date, of which 98.9% are young men and the majority reported having had sex with mens.

“It is important to understand that contagion occurs through physical contact with an infected person, it has nothing to do with sexual orientation or gender identity and this is very important because if not those people who are not men who have sex with men They will think that they cannot be infected and this is not the case,” Vizzotti said.

Although the condom does not create an absolute protection barrier against monkeypox because you can have contact with skin lesions during sexual intercourse, the minister emphasized that “it is an opportunity to highlight the importance of its use to prevent contagion of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and syphilis.

“What we see is that thanks to HIV treatments and the knowledge that those who have undetectable HIV virus do not transmit it, younger populations have a tendency not to use condoms and this translates into the increase in diseases of sexual transmission,” Vizzotti said.

In this sense, the minister expressed that “we can transform a threat into an opportunity” to reemphasize care, although she clarified that monkeypox “is not a sexually transmitted disease.”

A key axis of the meeting was to emphasize that the clinical presentation of the disease, that is, the symptoms that appear, “have nothing to do with the photo of bodies full of vesicles; what we are seeing are few lesions, in many cases located in the genital area or around the anus but also in other parts of the body,” Vizzotti said.

The minister stressed that it is important that “people self-monitor and do not look for many injuries, but rather minor and few injuries, identify them early and go to a health center to consult and minimize contagion.”

“It is also key that health personnel know it to be able to suspect,” he added.

isolation and care
In case of suspicion or diagnosis, the person has to be isolated until the scabs of the lesions fall off, since the period of contagion goes from the beginning of the symptoms until that moment; while the incubation (period between contact and the appearance of lesions) ranges from 4 to 21 days.

“During this period the person is not isolated, but constant monitoring is carried out to verify whether or not skin lesions appear,” Rearte said.

After having lived through the experience of the coronavirus pandemic, the minister stressed the importance of “removing the connotation that isolation currently has; anyone with chickenpox, mumps or another disease has to isolate themselves so as not to spread it.”

“This does not imply at all that you have to quarantine, or think about mandatory social isolation or travel will be restricted; there is a huge difference,” he explained.

In this context, Rearte recalled that those living with a person diagnosed with monkeypox should avoid having sexual relations of any kind with the infected person, also caresses, kisses and hugs until the scabs have fallen off and not share glasses, clothes, sheets, towels or cutlery.

And they indicated that, of the cases that occurred in Argentina, “the people living together who followed these protocols were not infected.”

“It is important to focus on behavior and not on the diagnosed population. What we know today is that it is skin-to-skin contact, no matter what sexual orientation you have,” said Daniel Coso, an activist for 100% Diversity and Rights, also present at the meeting.

While the infectologist doctor Tomas Orduna explained that “it is also spread by saliva by large droplets” and warned that “we do not know what happens with aerosols and with vaginal fluids and semen, so we do not rule out anything but today the route of contagion that is most observed is skin to skin, skin to mucous membranes”.

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