Monkeypox infection has appeared in Hungary, a 38-year-old man was diagnosed with the disease – the national chief medical officer said at a press conference in Budapest on Tuesday.
Cecília Müller said whether the man had been abroad is now being investigated by epidemiologists and other circumstances surrounding the patient.
According to the expert, test samples taken from the man arrived at the National Center for Public Health (NNK) on Monday, and full virus sequencing was performed on the samples on Tuesday, so that it was absolutely certain that there was a smallpox infection. Cecília Müller pointed out that monkeypox is a zoonotic infection that does not spread easily from person to person, and the disease requires close contact. Symptoms in the initial stage include malaise, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, followed by rashes, blisters, which are typically on the face and palms, and then all over the body. The infectivity of the virus persists from the initial symptoms and lasts until the blisters are emptied and the so-called scabs fall off the skin. The expert also said that in addition to close physical contact, the infection can be transmitted with other utensils, such as towels and bedding, less often by coughing and sneezing. The disease lasts for 2-4 weeks, the infected must be isolated – she pointed out.
Two types of the virus – coming from Africa – a Central African and a West African are distinguished, and the West African virus variant, which causes a milder disease, is present in Europe, she said. The smallpox vaccine can only be used in justified cases, on medical advice and in a hospital setting, said Cecília Müller. The duration of the smallpox vaccine is limited, so close contact with a patient with a proven smallpox is only recommended if four days have passed since the contact. The national chief medical officer also said that, in general, a patient with smallpox will recover on his own within two weeks, without any therapy. At the same time, she added, care must be taken, cases must be monitored and early diagnosis is required, in case of suspicion a doctor should be consulted.
She also said that procedures and epidemiological tasks related to smallpox had already been sent to the health care providers. Regarding the protection afforded by smallpox vaccines against the current smallpox before the late 1970s, Cecília Müller said the exact level of protection could not be determined. There are professional opinions that the protection is gone, and there are also those that, because we haven’t encountered the smallpox virus, we don’t know if the “memory cells” still remember the pathogens. “It is not possible to give an exact answer to this question, as life has not produced this situation,” the expert said.