Close contact remains the primary mode of human-to-human transmission: with the sexual route being the main cause of the ongoing monkeypox epidemic in Europe and across the Atlantic.
Monkey pox: from incubation to symptoms what we know about Italian cases
by Fabio Di Todaro
But Monkeypox, the virus that causes the disease, could also be transmitted while getting a tattoo. In the event that the instruments used, which came into contact with the blood of a positive during a previous procedure, have not been properly sterilized. “For this the tattoo artist must be a trusted person, a bit like the dentist”, he says Carlo TasciniDirector of the Infectious Diseases Clinic of the University Hospital of Udine.
Smallpox of monkeys: the first case of transmission through a tattoo in Udine?
To instill the doubt that the transmission of monkeypox can also occur following the carrying out of a tattoo is what was found in a 39-year-old man, who turned to the department of the Friulian capital with fever and after noticing injuries compatible with those determined from infection.
His case was described in an article published in the journal “Internal and Emergency Medicine”. Fresh from a trip to Spain, the man said he had had heterosexual intercourse (protected or not) with two different women over the previous thirty days. Unlike what has been observed so far in most cases, however, the first lesions did not appear in the genital area. He but on the right side and part of the back, in an area largely covered by a large Maori tattoo. Decoration which, as declared by the man himself, was made during the same trip to the Iberian country, seven days before the first symptoms appeared.
The swab carried out on the vesicles present in this area confirmed the diagnosis. The patient – not vaccinated against smallpox but remained asymptomatic – spent his convalescence in home isolation. And after a week he was completely healed.
Antivaiolosa, the vaccinated are also protected against Monkeypox
by Fabio Di Todaro
The first injuries at the site of the tattoo
Fresh from a trip abroad and from multiple sexual intercourse, even unprotected, the patient had some of the requisites considered at risk for contracting monkeypox infection. But what made the white coats suspicious was the appearance of the first lesions in the tattooed area.
“Although the sexual origin of the contagion cannot be excluded, the site in which the disease occurred suggests that the tattoo may have represented the source of the infection”, adds Tascini, who also cites what happened in support of the hypothesis. in July in Cadiz: with the closure of a shop used for making tattoos, after discovering that 12 people had passed through it, then discovered positive in Monkeypox.
Hence the recommendation to “undergo these procedures only in trusted locations and possibly in the city where you live and not abroad – recommends the expert -. The infectious risk is represented by the reuse of disposable needles and the use of instruments and inks not sterilized and contaminated with infected blood. No other procedure, apart from sterilization, guarantees the highest safety standards “.
The infectious risk associated with tattoos and piercings
That tattoos, like piercings, can be a source of contamination is not surprising. Studies have shown that between 3 and 6 percent of people have an infectious complication in the weeks following the procedure.
Furthermore, in Italy, it is estimated that more than ten percent of hepatitis B and C cases are attributable to aesthetic treatments. The percentage of cases of HIV infection in people who tested positive after having undergone a tattoo is lower. The possible transmission of pathogenic bacteria has also been demonstrated: Escherichia Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Microorganisms that, like viruses, can resist in needles and inks even for several weeks.
If you really can’t help but get a tattoo or “pierce” your earlobe or nostril, it is at least worth remembering that “the risk increases when these procedures are performed by beginners, in poorly hygienic facilities and with improvised tools” , comments Tascini.
Can monkeypox also be transmitted through food?
The hypothesis that monkeypox can be transmitted following a tattoo procedure is therefore not remote. Much less solid is the evidence regarding a possible dietary transmission of Monkeypox. So far, no cases of this type have been detected in the world. However, according to the authorities, the risk cannot be excluded.
The World Health Organization speaks of possible food transmission, but refers above all to countries where the virus is endemic. Over the past few weeks, the French Food Safety Agency and the US Department of Science and Technology have also expressed their views.
In a nutshell: the monkeypox virus could pass into food if treated by positive people and with lesions on the hands. And from there – eventually – to other people as well. This explains the reason for the indications to respect isolation (if you are positive), to always wash your hands and utensils correctly (especially if you live with an infected person) and to cook the meat completely (especially if wild and coming from countries where the disease is endemic).