Monkeypox: the point with Professor Michel Carles, infectiologist at the University Hospital of Nice

The epidemic began in the middle of summer. But communities responded and introduced a smallpox vaccine. In this new school year, we are taking stock of monkeypox with Professor Michel Carles, infectiologist at the University Hospital of Nice.

Professor Michel Carles, specialist in infectious diseases at the University Hospital of Nice, was the guest of France 3 Côte d’Azur this Tuesday 13 September at 18:30. We take him to an inventory of monkeypox, this viral disease characterized in particular by skin lesions, which usually heal on their own but can be very painful and sometimes serious.
A study published on Tuesday described two cases of encephalomyelitis – inflammation affecting the nervous system, including the spinal cord – linked to monkeypox infection.

For Professor Carles, who observed this smallpox virus as early as mid-July, “It is a disease whose contagiousness is lower than Covid 19 because it requires close contact. It is an STD (sexually transmitted disease) transmitted through genital secretions and saliva.

The health authorities reassure: The peak of 40 cases per week has been exceeded and has been declining since then. We only see 10 cases a week or even less.

“Usually it’s young men who have sex with other men, men under 50”. It is the multitude of partners that increases the risks.

Sex workers are also concerned. On the other hand, there are few cases in the lesbian community.

“The symptoms are fever, pimples and lesions on the mucous membranes”. Problem: These symptoms are also very similar to those of chickenpox. If in doubt, there are PCR tests available in hospitals and laboratories.

You don’t usually die from chicken pox. “It’s a nasty disease, sometimes you have to take morphine to relieve the itch, specifies the infectiologist. In some immunocompromised people “The risk of death is small, but not impossible”.

Children had to be vaccinated until the 1980s.

For Michel Carles, a single dose is not enough when exposed, a second is needed. He points out that the antibody level rises slowly after an injection. It takes an average of six weeks between two injections for the vaccine to really work. And 3 cans for the weakest. He underlines: “It’s a third-generation vaccine that’s very well tolerated.”

“Today the supply of vaccines is greater than the demand at PACA”, states Olivier Reilhes from the Regional Health Authority.

Vaccination started shortly after July 14 at the University Hospital of Nice. And in two months, 7,000 people were vaccinated in PACA, 3,000 of them in the Alpes-Maritimesaccording to the ARS.

A vaccination campaign carried out in about thirty centers, hospitals, CEGIDs, the premises of the Aides Association and centers provided by local authorities.

The High Authority for Health (HAS) recommends vaccination in case of contact with infected people or for prevention.

This disease, detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1958, has spread to the tropical forests of central Africa. Monkeys, but also rodents, squirrels, antelopes and gazelles can be carriers of smallpox.

More recently”A first epidemic occurred in the United States in the 2000s, probably related to the trade in infected rodents and travelers carrying the virus without knowing it,” says Professor Carles.

Since then the smallpox had disappeared. Today, the health authorities know that “these epidemic outbreaks” can also occur again in Europe.

The PACA region is the 3e most affected region. Since September 8, 3,785 cases of monkeypox virus (monkeypox) infection have been confirmed in France. The breakdown of cases by region of residence is as follows: 2,311 in Ile-de-France, 305 in Occitania, 264 in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

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