A great panic is spreading among health professionals concerning an old disease called monkeypox. Monkeypox was first identified in the 1950’s and is most commonly found in parts of west and central Africa. Health professionals can’t wait to appear in the frenzied media to spread warnings, alarm and distress at being overwhelmed by this disease’s outbreak. The UK Health Security Agency is leading the media frenzy. When asked if community transmission was now the norm in Britain, UKHSA chief medical adviser Susan Hopkins said “absolutely. We are finding cases that have no identified contact with an individual from West Africa, which is what we’ve seen previously in this country.” She told BBC television. “We are detecting more cases on a daily basis.”The count has reached 20.
Clinics were ‘already under significant pressure,’ warns a UK sexual health consultant. A monkeypox outbreak in the UK with 20 infected patients and about 100 throughout Europe could have a “massive impact” on sexual health services, doctors warned. Over-stretched clinic staff are self-isolating if they are in contact with those infected.
Monkeypox Media Panic
People with monkeypox symptoms are being advised against attending walk-in clinics that previously operated on a walk-in basis. In London, sexual health clinics have stopped walk-in’s altogether. Staff that had contact with infected patients have been advised to self isolate. Dr Claire Dewsnap, a consultant in genitourinary medicine and president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told the BBC that sexual health clinics were “already under significant pressure” without the consequences of staff self-isolating. “It is already stretching the workforce and will have a massive impact if staff have to isolate if they are in close contact with someone who’s infected. I am concerned about the potential impact on access to sexual health generally,” she added. At least 12 of the 20 cases in the UK have been found in London. The BBC reported: “In London, where most of the UK’s 20 identified cases have been detected, sexual health clinics have stopped people walking in altogether.” Soho’s 56 Dean Street clinic, that specialises in treating LGBT clients, as well as heterosexuals, says on its website: “Please do not walk in to our clinics with symptoms of monkeypox – call us so we can assess you first before you attend.” Rosehill Clinic’s website says: “Please do not attend the clinic if you have a fever and rash or have had contact with any person known to have a monkeypox infection.”
How Monkeypox is Spread?
Monkeypox can be spread by close contact with an infected person. Infection can enter the body via broken skin, the eyes, nose or mouth and by skin-to-skin contact during sex. Most UK cases have been detected in gay and bisexual men. The UK’s Health Security Agency is advising gay and bisexual men to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions. Despite the focus on gay and bisexual men health officials are at pains to point out that monkeypox is not sexually transmitted but is spread by prolonged face-to-face contact and respiratory droplets. It is also spread by open sores, contact with bodily fluids or by exposure to contaminated clothes or bedding. Gay and bisexual men are being advised to look out for unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, in particular their genitalia.
Is it Just a Virus?
The hysteria and panic hasn’t spread to other places despite the media efforts.“It’s just a virus,” Ken Monteith, executive director of Quebec’s network of AIDS organizations (COCQ-SIDA) told the CBC. Speaking against how the disease is being stigmatised he said, “It doesn’t really matter who it is, who has it. It isn’t generated by an identity, it’s generated by itself.” Dr. Réjean Thomas best known for his commitment to people with AIDS is the founder and president of Doctors of the World Canada and founder of the L’actuel medical clinic in Montreal, said, “The disease is not dangerous … at least the form that we’re seeing here, it doesn’t look severe.”
The HSE and the Irish Media are Ready
According to the Irish Times the health service is bracing itself. The HSE has set up a multidisciplinary incident management team to prepare for the possible arrival of monkeypox. Infectious diseases experts are on alert for patients with symptoms of the virus. While no cases have as yet been identified in Ireland, 11 new cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the UK, bringing the total number of cases recorded there to 20.
According to Extra.ie ‘A top expert in tropical medicine believes a case of monkeypox is set to arrive on these shores sooner rather than later. Dr Graham Fry, director of the Tropical Medical Bureau travel health clinics, said it is ‘highly likely’ the disease will arrive to Ireland.
Is it Dangerous?
Most cases are reported to be mild, but severe consequences may be experienced in young children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems. It usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms last from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur. The fatality ratio is reported to be around 3-6%. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscular aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages – a bit like chicken pox – before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
Is it a Smallpox Variant?
Health secretary Sajid Javid said the UK was stockpiling smallpox vaccine – as smallpox and monkeypox viruses are similar. A smallpox vaccination is said to offer good protection against monkeypox since the two viruses are quite similar or are they variants of the same virus? Since smallpox was said to be totally eradicated long ago why were smallpox vaccines still available? If smallpox was eradicated more than 40 years ago why are the U.S. and Russia still holding stocks of the virus?
Monkeypox is admitted to be a relative of smallpox. The last naturally occurring case of smallpox was diagnosed in Somalia in 1977. Two years later, doctors proclaimed it eradicated. On December 9th, 1979, a commission of scientists officially declare that smallpox has been eradicated. The elimination of smallpox is claimed to be one of the major successes in the history of science and medicine. It is the only infectious disease afflicting humans that has officially been declared eradicated. Despite this, according to some, monkeypox appears to have all the hallmarks of a variant of smallpox, but they can’t admit this openly since it was claimed to be eradicated. This present disease, whatever it is, is less transmissible and causes milder symptoms and is less deadly. Of course it can’t be classified as a variant of smallpox as that was officially declared to be eradicated in 1979.
Discontinued Smallpox Vaccination Reintroduction
According to the UK’s health secretary Sajid Javid the UK are stockpiling smallpox vaccine as it is said to offer good protection against monkeypox. However this is a controversial decision since one reason the smallpox vaccination program was halted back in the 1970’s was because taking it caused a small percentage of deaths and injuries each year. If the smallpox vaccine is re-introduced, who should be liable for the inevitable deaths or injuries it causes, the government or the vaccine manufacturers?
The United States stopped smallpox vaccinations in 1972, so anyone not vaccinated since then is considered to be highly vulnerable to the disease. Additionally, the longevity of smallpox vaccinations is uncertain. Officials estimate that a majority of the population is vulnerable to smallpox infection. Under these conditions, an epidemic could have a mortality rate as high as 30%. The question arises, should the WHO make smallpox preparations and with their Covid record can they be trusted not to use smallpox as a political takeover excuse.
Smallpox in History
Smallpox something of a similar nature had ravaged humanity for thousands of years. The earliest known accounts of it come from India in the 2 Century BC. It is believed that Ramses V the Egyptian Pharaoh died of a smallpox type disease in 1145 BC. Recent research however suggests that the smallpox virus we are familiar with may have evolved as late as 1580 AD. Inoculation which is introducing a small amount of the disease to bring on a mild case resulting in immunity was widespread in China by the 16th century.
Genocide by Smallpox
Smallpox-like illness didn’t exist in the Americas before European arrival. The European pox was a major factor in the near-eradication of many of the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America. Rampant smallpox was the leading cause of death in 18th century Europe. In 1796 the English scientist Edward Jenner discovered a vaccine. Unlike other types of inoculation, Jenner’s vaccine, made from cowpox a closely-related disease affecting cows carried zero risk of transmission. At last the scourge of smallpox was under control. Apart from the media’s frenzied hysteria let’s hope the monkeypox proves to be no more than a storm in a teacup or a newspaper.