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Antivirals may help monkeypox patients

Wednesday May 25th 2022

Antiviral medications may be effective against monkeypox, researchers have found, but more research is urgently needed.

Writing yesterday in *The Lancet Infectious Diseases*, Dr Hugh Adler of the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK, and colleagues explain that in recent days, outbreaks of monkeypox have been reported in several European countries.

They analysed seven cases of monkeypox in the UK between 2018 and 2021. All patients recovered following treatment in isolation in UK hospitals. Outcomes for patients given antiviral medications suggest that tecovirimat may both shorten the duration of symptoms and reduce the contagious time period.

The researchers call for well-maintained response centres to manage future monkeypox outbreaks, and further work on virus detection from blood and throat swabs.

Dr Adler said: “As public health officials are trying to understand what is causing the May 2022 monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America – which have affected several patients who reported neither travel nor an identified link to a previously known case – our study offers some of the first insights into the use of antivirals for the treatment of monkeypox in humans.

“Although this latest outbreak has affected more patients than we had previously encountered in the UK, historically monkeypox has not transmitted very efficiently between people, and overall, the risk to public health is low.”

He added: “The cases reported in our study, in addition to the recent outbreaks, highlight the importance of maintaining a collaborative network of centres on standby to manage sporadic, outbreaks of high consequence pathogens, such as monkeypox.

"The cases we observed were challenging and resource-intensive to manage, even in the high-income setting of the UK. Public health officials and health care workers around the world must remain vigilant to the possibility of new cases of monkeypox.”

The UK yesterday reported 15 more cases of monkeypox, including the first in Scotland, bringing the total to 71.

Adler, H. et al. Clinical features and management of human monkeypox: a retrospective observational study in the UK. *The Lancet Infectious Diseases* 24 May 2022; doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(22)00228-6


Tags: Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | World Health

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