A first case of monkey pox, or “Monkeypox”, has just been confirmed by the Moroccan Ministry of Health and Social Protection on June 2. In its official press release, the ministry specifies that it is about a European expatriate who was followed within the framework of the protocol presented Thursday, May 26. His condition would be “stable and not worrying”, adds the same source.
On Wednesday, May 25, the first three suspected cases recorded in Morocco were found to be negative after laboratory analyzes carried out at the Ibn-Sina military hospital in Marrakech. The Ministry of Health then assured that the suspected cases had been placed under medical surveillance and taken care of according to the health procedures in force.
During the week of May 16, the Marrakech authorities set out to identify and then test the monkeys in the very touristy Jemaa el-Fna square. According to several sources, a veterinary delegation would have directly taken samples of their scales in order to analyze them in the laboratory to ensure that they were healthy. Health professionals have even ordered trainers to vaccinate their animals and monitor their health.
Attractions as popular as they are lucrative, the primates of Jemaa el-Fna are usually photographed with tourists. In the context of the epidemic risk, the veterinarians would therefore have prohibited any contact with the monkeys. Indeed, this viral zoonosis (transmissible to humans by animals) is beginning to worry the non-endemic regions of which Morocco is a part.
180 cases detected in 16 countries usually immune
Monkeypox is present in 11 countries in West and Central Africa. But in recent weeks, 180 cases have been detected in 16 countries around the world that are usually immune. Direct chains of transmission have so far not been able to be established.
“Europe remains the epicenter of the largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported outside of endemic areas in West and Central Africa,” the Organization explained. World Health Organization (WHO) in a press release on May 31. The WHO believes it can “stop” this transmission of the disease between humans.
Although there is no specific vaccine for monkeypox, the classic smallpox vaccine provides cross protection. Experts place its effectiveness at around 85%. During a conference organized on June 2 by the Regional Office for Africa of the WHO, several specialists rightly pointed out “unequal access” to this vaccine. The risk would therefore be, according to them, that we “repeat the same scenario as with the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Strict monitoring and classification of suspected cases
Before this first case was declared, the Moroccan authorities had launched a “surveillance and response plan”. “The Ministry of Health has worked proactively on the issue and has taken a set of necessary measures to monitor the evolution of this disease, in compliance with international health standards,” assured government spokesman Mustapha. Baitas, during a press briefing on May 26.
This epidemiological surveillance system was set up by the Department of Epidemiology and Disease Control, in coordination with public, private and military health structures. It classifies cases of infection as “suspected case”, “probable case” or “confirmed case”, and defines the mode of medical management, as well as the follow-up of contact cases.
Thus, anyone with a skin rash, vesicular or vesiculo-pustular, with a body temperature of more than 38 degrees, is qualified as a “suspected case”. Are excluded, the usual diagnoses for this type of symptoms, in particular chickenpox, measles, herpes, rickettsioses, or any possible allergic reaction. “Any suspected or probable case should be immediately reported to the Regional Health Authority, which is the health unit [public ou privé] where the doctor made the diagnosis”, we learn.
Is considered at risk, according to the health system, “any person who has had direct unprotected physical contact with the infected skin or biological fluids of a probable or confirmed symptomatic case”. No circumstance is excluded, “including in health care facilities, such as sharing personal items or contact with textiles [vêtements, literie] “, supports the Directorate of Epidemiology.
The health authority mentioned among the sources of potential danger any unprotected contact, at a distance of less than two meters, for three hours, with a possible or confirmed symptomatic case. She also gave several concrete examples: “with a close or intimate friend, in transport, between colleagues, in the office or in the gym”.
In the event of the appearance of said symptoms, self-isolation for three weeks is recommended following the last contact with the probable or confirmed symptomatic case, as well as twice-daily temperature monitoring. The Directorate of Epidemiology, on the other hand, prohibits going to a health establishment. The care process is carried out by the Rapid Response Team (RRT), responsible for setting up a telephone follow-up.