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It came as British cases in the current outbreak rose to 71, after 14 more were announced in England yesterday. Symptoms are typically mild and include a rash, fever and lymph node swelling. The previous cases were treated at specialist centres in Liverpool, London and Newcastle. A female patient given the drug tecovirimat left hospital after just 10 days.
This compared with an average of 27 days for the remaining six patients, who either had no antiviral treatment or a different drug.
Dr Hugh Adler, of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said tecovirimat is licensed for use in humans and had been developed for smallpox.
He explained: “If smallpox were to return or be used in a bio-terrorism attack, it’s important that we have drugs like this on standby. Since smallpox and monkeypox are genetically similar, we offered these drugs to patients.”
The patient who took tecovirimat twice daily for two weeks, also had a shorter amount of time that the virus was reproducing in their body.
Dr Adler said although this single case provided limited evidence, it was a promising signal that should act as a springboard for larger studies, particularly in countries where monkeypox is endemic.
The researchers said they could not comment on whether the drug was being used now due to patient confidentiality.
Smallpox vaccines are being given to high-risk close contacts of monkeypox cases.
The West Africa strain, responsible for the current outbreak, causes only mild illness in the vast majority of instances. The UK Health Security Agency said cases here were being promptly identified.
Dr Jake Dunning, a consultant in infectious diseases at Royal Free Hospital, London, said monkeypox in children was rare and any rashes they have are much more likely to be caused by chickenpox or hand, foot and mouth disease.
The study was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.