What we know about the first deaths of people with monkeypox

In recent days, five people with monkeypox have died outside the African continent, where the disease is endemic. In all, ten people have died after catching the disease since May.

Since May, the first five monkeypox-related deaths worldwide have been reported in Africa, where the disease is endemic and was first detected in humans in 1970. Most infections, however, are concentrated in Europe, where 70% of the 18,000 cases detected since the beginning of May are located and 25% in the Americas, according to the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Of those thousands of cases, five male deaths in recent days have been reported outside the African continent: two in Spain, one in India, one in Brazil and one in Peru. However, it is not yet clear that monkeypox is the cause of these deaths.

A man with “serious comorbidities” died in Brazil

A 41-year-old man with monkeypox died last Thursday in Brazil. It was the first death linked to the disease outside Africa and the sixth overall, local authorities said on Friday. A man “suffering from monkey pox who was being followed in hospital for other serious clinical conditions died on Thursday”, said the health secretariat of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais (southeast).

The patient, who according to local media had serious immunity problems, died at Eduardo de Menezes Hospital in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais.

“It is important to point out that he had serious comorbidities, so as not to cause panic in the population. Mortality (linked to this disease) remains very low,” said Minas Gerais Health Secretary Fábio Baccheretti , who explained that the patient was undergoing treatment for cancer.

According to the Ministry of Health, Brazil has recorded nearly 1,000 cases of monkeypox, most of them in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, also located in the south-east of the country. The first case was detected on June 10, in a man who had traveled to Europe.

“Two young men” dead in Spain

The Spanish Ministry of Health announced on Friday the death of a person suffering from monkeypox, considered to be the first death ever recorded in Europe of a patient infected with this disease. However, he did not specify the cause, date of death, or more information about the man. The next day, the ministry announced the death of a second person also suffering from monkeypox.

He explained that the two victims were “two young men” suffering from “monkey pox” and that studies were underway to have more “epidemiological information” on these two cases, in order to understand what had caused their dead.

For the moment, we only know that the second death concerns a 31-year-old man who was hospitalized in the Reina Sofia hospital in Cordoba, in the south of the country, according to a press release from the Andalusian authorities. “The samples taken during the autopsy should make it possible to determine whether the cause of death was meningoencephalitis [causée par l’infection, ndlr] or another pathology,” they added.

In Spain, one of the countries with the most cases in the world, more than 4,200 people have been infected according to the latest data from the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies. “Among the 3,750 patients (…), 120 cases were hospitalized and two died,” he said in his report released on Saturday.

A patient died of sepsis in Peru

An HIV-positive patient who had abandoned his treatment against HIV, and was infected with monkeypox, died Monday in Peru where more than 300 cases have been listed, announced a health official.

The 45-year-old man “arrived at the hospital in very serious condition with monkeypox. His health had deteriorated after abandoning his HIV treatment,” the director of the hospital said. Dos de Mayo National Hospital, Eduardo Farfan on local radio.

“He did not die of monkeypox but of sepsis” caused by a weakened immune system, added the director of the hospital located in Lima. “The problem is that it was a patient with other morbidities”, which made him more vulnerable “and he decompensated”, said Eduardo Farfan. Admitted Wednesday “highly infected” by the virus, “the germs which invaded his skin compressed his lungs”, explained the director of the hospital.

One dead in India after “symptoms of encephalitis and fatigue”

Indian authorities announced on Monday the death of a man infected with monkeypox, which could be the first fatal case of the disease in Asia. The health ministry in the southern Indian state of Kerala said tests on the 22-year-old victim, who died on July 30, “show the man had monkeypox”. But it is not yet clear whether the cause of death was indeed monkeypox.

The Indian victim died a week after being hospitalized on his return from the United Arab Emirates. The first analyzes carried out on him on Saturday in India showed that he was carrying the West African variant of the virus and further tests have yet to be carried out. 165 passengers were on board the same flight as him from the Emirates, but none of them had close contact with the patient, assured the ministry.

“The young man had no symptoms of monkeypox. He was admitted to hospital with symptoms of encephalitis and fatigue,” Kerala Health Minister Veena George said on Sunday as quoted by the Indian Express newspaper.

Twenty people identified as being at high risk were placed under observation, she said, including relatives, friends and medical personnel, who may have been in contact with the victim. India has recorded at least four cases of the disease, the first of which was on July 15 in another man who returned to Kerala after a trip to the United Arab Emirates.

More deaths to come?

The WHO Regional Office for Europe predicts an increase in the number of deaths linked to monkeypox, although it stresses that severe complications remain rare and that the disease often cures itself, without requiring treatment.

The aim must be “to rapidly interrupt the transmission of the virus in Europe and bring this epidemic to a halt”, said Catherine Smallwood, an emergency manager at WHO Europe.

The first symptoms are a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a rash similar to chickenpox. For now, the WHO stresses that there are not vaccines for everyone and therefore recommends prioritizing those who are most at risk, those who are sick and those who treat or make them. of research.

Salome Vincendon with AFP BFMTV journalist

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