Antiviral drugs may reduce monkeypox symptoms, shorten contagious phase: Lancet study

The study found little evidence that brincidofovir was of clinical benefit but concluded that further research into the potential of tecovirimat would be warranted. Moreover, the researchers also report detection of monkeypox virus in blood and throat swabs.

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This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a monkeypox virion, obtained from a sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Monkeypox, a disease that rarely appears outside Africa, has been identified by European and American health authorities in recent days. (Image Credit: AP)

A study in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Tuesday has revealed that some antiviral medications might have the potential to shorten symptoms of monkeypox and reduce the amount of time a patient is contagious. The study comprised seven patients diagnosed with the rare viral disease in the UK between 2018 and 2021.

The cases analysed in the study represent the first instances of in-hospital transmission and household transmission outside of Africa. Meanwhile, the study also reported the patient response to the first off-label use of two different antiviral medications — brincidofovir and tecovirimat — to treat the disease.

The study found little evidence that brincidofovir was of clinical benefit but concluded that further research into the potential of tecovirimat would be warranted. Moreover, the researchers also report detection of monkeypox virus in blood and throat swabs.

As optimum infection control and treatment strategies for this disease are not yet established, data from the study could help inform global efforts to further understand the clinical features of the disease as well as transmission dynamics, the scientists revealed.

“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,” said Hugh Adler of the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

“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,” Adler, lead author of the paper, said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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