Faced with monkeypox, calls for vaccination are increasing in Togo

According to the latest figures from the United States health authorities, more than 15,300 cases of monkeypox have been identified in recent weeks worldwide. In response, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said last July that it had approved the use of a vaccine to prevent harm. In Togo, the national authorities are in an anticipatory approach to avoid unpleasant surprises.

A national response plan

According to Professor Majesté Ihou Wateba, infectious disease doctor at the Center Hospitalier Régional de Lomé – renovated in 2020 for the management of infectious diseases –, monkeypox is a disease which manifests itself by several symptoms such as fever, headaches , rash, muscle pain. But for the moment, it is not present in Togo.

“Prevention is better than cure,” it is often said. In this case, the most effective preventive formula against this re-emerging crisis is to resort to the vaccination of populations at risk.

“We have already put in place the necessary reception and support structures to ensure this response effectively. When someone around you has blister-like rashes, like when you are burned by fire, the skin is raised with water inside; if there is someone who has generalized eruptions of this nature on the body, the health structures must be alerted quickly, ”said the professor.

Medicines and vaccines already exist against this disease, but the risk is very high in people with diabetes, immunocompromised or pregnant.

“It is a DNA virus, a large virus, some members of which have even been used for vaccine research against human smallpox and today vaccines based on knowledge of the viruses of this family exist. But what we fear is the emergence of more virulent variants, ”suggested Professor Salou Monerou, biologist.

Quickly resort to vaccination

If civil society actors welcome the response plan, they believe that it is necessary to go further, like the Association of Medical Biologists of Togo (ABM-Togo).

“Faced with this situation and in memory of the COVID-19 crisis, we recommend raising awareness among health actors about the disease, increasing the diagnostic potential of health personnel and strengthening biological research and biotechnological innovation” , suggests Kossi Kabo, president of ABM-Togo.

It also proposes equipping epidemiology laboratories for coordinated research (cyclers, sequencers), harmonizing data collection and reporting on clinical results, strengthening strain conservation conditions (biobanking) and strengthening epidemiological surveillance, among others.

Similarly, for effective prevention, Dr. Kabo would like a vaccination program targeted at populations at risk to be developed. “Prevention is better than cure,” it is often said. In this case, the most effective preventive formula against this re-emerging crisis is to resort to the vaccination of populations at risk”, he adds.

A fatality rate between 1 and 10%

An emerging infectious disease caused by a virus transmitted by infected animals, most commonly rodents, monkeypox can then spread from person to person. But person-to-person transmission alone cannot sustain an outbreak, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The clinical presentation is similar to that seen in patients once infected with smallpox, which was eradicated worldwide in 1980. But monkeypox is still present sporadically in parts of central and western Africa near tropical rainforests.

Generally, the case fatality rate in monkeypox outbreaks is 1-10%, but with proper care, most patients recover.

Follow the author, Naphtali Messanh Ledy, on Twitter: @NephLedy

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