40% of monkeypox patients require medical treatment, study shows

The research, carried out in Catalonia and Madrid, suggests direct contact is the dominant factor for transmission

A medical professional administers a monkeypox vaccine in Barcelona (by Laura Fíguls)
A medical professional administers a monkeypox vaccine in Barcelona (by Laura Fíguls) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 9, 2022 12:47 PM

Some 40% of monkeypox patients develop complications that require medical treatment. This is one of the main results of a study carried out in hospitals in Catalonia and Madrid, published in the magazine 'The Lancet'. 

Germans Trias and Pujol hospitals, Vall Hebron and October 12 in Madrid. 

"Until now, the clinical impact of the disease was being underestimated and the study reveals that the percentage of people who suffer complications is high," medical researcher Oriol Mitjà explained to the Catalan News Agency.

The study reinforces the idea that skin-to-skin contact in sexual relations is the dominant factor for the transmission of the virus, as opposed to the disease being airborne.

The study was carried out in three hospitals in the areas with the most cases in Spain – Madrid and Barcelona – ​​with the participation of the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It involved a comprehensive evaluation of the clinical and virological characteristics of 181 patients with monkeypox. 

Of these, 175 are men; 166 of whom identify as men who have sex with men. The average age of those affected is 37 years and the average duration of the incubation period of the disease is 7 days.

In May 2022, the first cases of monkeypox were reported in Europe, with an outbreak that remains active in 27 countries, with more than 11,000 confirmed cases. Spain is the most affected country, with 3,738 cases by the end of July. The scientific community still has little information on the current outbreak of the disease.

Catalonia began vaccinating against monkeypox in July.

The research reveals some previously unreported complications that people have when they contract monkeypox, such as proctitis (inflammation of the rectum); tonsillar ulceration, and penile edema (swelling). The study records the following additional manifestations: 45 (25%) patients had proctitis; 19 (11%) tonsillitis, 15 (8%) penile edema and 6 (3%) abscesses.

All participants presented skin lesions, in the anogenital region (78%) or perioral (43%). The number of lesions, between 3 and 20, is lower than described in the medical literature so far. General discomfort is also observed before or after the appearance of the rash.

70 of the patients (39%) required medical treatment, mainly to reduce the pain associated with the commonly seen swelling. In general, recovery can be done at home, but three patients had to be admitted due to complications arising.