At the end of May, Alexandre, 37, and his companion noticed the appearance of small pimples, one on the back, the other on the hands. The two Ile-de-France residents do not yet know that they have caught monkeypox (monkeypox, in English), a disease that had never before been observed on French soil, although it has been endemic since the 1970s in a dozen African countries. It is an email sent by the organizers of a gay festival in Belgium, where they had gone earlier in the month, which prompts them to call 15: several cases of this disease which is transmitted mainly by contacts prolonged were detected among the participants of the event.
They are directed to the infectious and tropical diseases department of the Bichat hospital in Paris, which is one of the four reference health establishments for epidemic and biological risk in Ile-de-France (out of the sixteen in the country). ). There, a sample followed by a PCR confirms the diagnosis. They are immediately forced into isolation for three weeks, until their scabs fall off and they are no longer contagious. A total of 330 people have been declared positive for the monkeypox virus in the country since the first case detected on May 20, according to a situation update from Public Health France (SPF) published on June 23. Ile-de-France is the main region affected by the epidemic, accounting for 68% of cases on the national territory, followed by Occitanie (22 cases) and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (21 cases).
Clinical signs different from endemic regions
If the symptoms of Alexandre and his companion were not very serious, many infected people present painful lesions located in the genital and anal areas sometimes requiring the use of morphine. “Among the cases investigated, 77% presented a genito-anal rash, 73% an eruption on another part of the body, 71% a fever and 69% lymphadenopathy”that is to say a swelling of the lymph nodes, reports SPF.
At the Bichat hospital, infectious disease specialist Xavier Lescure describes proctitis, urethritis, but also oral lesions and laryngitis. Clinical signs that differ from those previously known in endemic areas in Africa. “These particularities are observed due to the mode of transmission specific to this epidemic and the community that carries this transmission”explains the doctor – until then mainly men who have sex with men (MSM). “Today, the main risk factor is multiple sexual partners”, adds Mr. Lescure. Among the 330 confirmed cases is only one woman, “whose (untested) partner reported he had a rash three weeks prior”specifies SPF.
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