By the editor
QFour cases of monkeypox have so far been identified in Belgium. The famous virologist Marc Van Ranst was the guest of VTM Nieuws to give details and advice on this new disease. The scientist recommends to the population, in case of symptoms, to go directly to the emergency room of the hospital. According to him, the attending physician does not always have the right equipment to decelerate the virus. “At the moment, I don’t think our emergency services are overwhelmed, so testing capacity shouldn’t be expanded.”
The expert also gave some information on what awaits us for the next few weeks. For Marc Van Ranst, an increase in cases will be observed. “The only question is whether this increase will be linear or whether it will be exponential.”
On Friday, the federal Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, was reassuring by indicating, in a press release, that the virus presented “a low risk for the general population”.
A fourth case recorded
This Saturday evening, it was Emmanuel André who confirmed on Twitter a fourth monkeypox infection in Belgium. “This patient is taken care of in the Walloon region and a link with the event in Antwerp in which at least two other infected people had participated”, specified the micro-biologist.
What we know about the virus
Transmission occurs through very close physical contact with an infected person (through bodily fluids, among others) or contact with clothing or linen used by an infected person. Monkeypox can also be transmitted through direct contact during sexual intercourse.
After an incubation period that can range from 5 to 21 days, infected people usually show mild symptoms initially (fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue). A rash may appear, often on the face, then spread to the rest of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages until a crust appears. Most people heal within a few weeks. Exceptionally, these symptoms may be more serious. But at this stage, the cases reported in Europe are mostly mild and there are no reported deaths.
In the event of a suspicious rash, it is currently advisable to contact the emergency department as soon as possible, which will eventually direct the patient to a hospital with greater expertise. Until monkeypox is ruled out or the infection is cured, close contact with other people should be avoided and no sexual contact is recommended.
Men who have sex with other men, or people who have multiple sex partners, need to be especially careful.
Infected persons should be placed in contact isolation until the lesions have healed. High-risk contacts, such as cohabitants and sexual partners, are meanwhile asked to monitor their condition for 21 days for symptoms – given the incubation period – and should not be quarantined. All contact with pregnant women, children and immunocompromised people should cease during this time.