Monkeypox: Small study points to a promising antiviral

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A new study suggests tecovirimat may treat monkeypox, but the data only come from one patient. Image credit: sergeyryzhov/Getty Images.

In a new study, researchers describe seven cases of monkeypox that occurred in the United Kingdom between 2018 and 2021, the first cases of in-hospital and household transmission outside of Africa.

These monkeypox patients received two antiviral medications as treatment, one of which reduced the length of symptoms.

All patients made a full recovery following treatment.

The monkeypox virus, which is related to smallpox, is endemic to Central and West Africa. It can cause a range of symptoms including headache, skin lesions, fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.

Since the first report of monkeypox in 1970Trusted Source, cases of monkeypox in humans have rarely occurred outside of the African continent. However, since early May 2022, several cases have emerged in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Although doctors can reliably identify and diagnose monkeypox, much remains unknown about the virus, including the dynamics of its transmission, the full range of symptoms it causes, and how best to treat it.

In a new clinical study that appears in The Lancet Infectious DiseasesTrusted Source, researchers describe the first cases of in-hospital and household transmission of monkeypox outside of Africa.

They detail the clinical features of the infection and its management, including the use of an antiviral drug that could reduce the length of the contagious period and time of recovery.

Monkeypox cases in the United Kingdom

The report looks at seven cases of monkeypox occurring in the United Kingdom between 2018 and 2021. In three of these cases, the individuals acquired the virus in the U.K. These represent the first cases of in-hospital and household transmission of monkeypox outside ofAfrica. In the remainder of the cases, the individuals became infected with the virus in Nigeria.

Dr. Nick Price of Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, U.K., senior author of the paper, explained the importance of sharing these data:

“Until now, monkeypox has been a rare, imported condition in the U.K. and the NHS [National Health Service] High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network has treated all seven of the U.K.’s confirmed cases until 2021.

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