Le danger immanent des “supercontaminateurs”

Pourquoi certains individus, touchés par une affection, ont cette capacité d’infecter autour d’eux des dizaines de personnes, beaucoup plus qu’un malade lambda? L’actualité Covid nous décrit des cas, mais les exemples ne manquent pas dans l’histoire de la médecine …

Là encore, c’est la loi des 20/80: on estime que 20% des individus, au sein d’une population donnée, concentrerait 80% du potentiel de transmission d’un élément pathogène.

Pourquoi eux, et comment deviennent ils “super contaminateurs”? Il y a de nombreuses théories mais aucune réponse définitive”, écrit la spécialiste santé du journal britannique The Guardian. Un système immunitaire différent serait une réponse, mais il est probable que cette capacité étrange “soit causée par de multiples facteurs, notamment en étant infecté par une dose plus élevée du virus en premier lieu ou par plusieurs agents pathogènes”.

C’est Atchoum qui nous embête … il risque d’être un supercontaminateur …

Le journal scientifique Nature relayait en 2005 l’étude de chercheurs s’intéressant aux super-spreaders. Après l’analyse de huit différentes infections humaines (le Sras, la rougeole, la variole, la variole du singe, la peste pulmonaire ou encore Ebola), ils ont démontré que le phénomène de super-contagion avait lieu avec toutes les infections, de façon plus ou moins importante selon la maladie.

Au début du siècle, on a eu le cas de “Thyphoid Mary”, une irlandaise émigrée aux USA engagée dans de diverses familles comme cuisinière, et qui à chaque fois déclenchait une hécatombe de thyphoïde. Cette Mary Mallon se , fait débusquer par des médecins, mais elle refuse tout prélèvement et ce sont des plociers qui l’emmènent de force à l’hôpîtal où l’on constate qu’elle est bien porteuse saine de la fièvre thyphoïde.

Du coup, elle est assignée à résidence, mais un juge la laisse en liberté sur promesse qu’elle change de métier: elle sera lingère … Sauf que quelques mois plus tard, elle change de nom (désormais Marie Brown) et redémarre une carrière de cuisinière … avec les mêmes effets délétères et quelques morts supplémentaires. Elle est alors à nouveau arrêtée et mise “en quarantaine” à vie. A sa mort, une autopsie révèlera la présence de bactéries de la thyphoïde dans sa vésicule biliaire.

Plus récemment, en 1994, c’est en Californie qu’une femme nommée Gloria Ramirez, a pu “mériter” le titre de Toxic Lady. Soignée pour un cancer, elle a été hospitalisée d’urgence le 19 février 1994, et là, les gros ennuis ont commencé: quelques minutes après une prise de sang, une forte odeur d’ammoniaque s’est répandue dans la pièce, et les médecins du labo ont observé des cristaux blancs dans l’échantillon sanguin.

C’est alors qu’un certain nombre de membres du personnel médical ont commencé à se sentir gravement malades, souffrant d’une série de symptômes tels que des évanouissements, des convulsions, des difficultés respiratoires et des vomissements.

Au total 23 des 37 membres du personnel des urgences ont présenté au moins un symptôme. Vers 20 h 30 ce soir-là, l’hôpital a décidé d’évacuer sa salle d’urgence, traitant les patients sur le parking pendant que des travailleurs portant des combinaisons HAZMAT testaient l’air dans la salle d’urgence.

Ramirez est décédée plus tard dans la même nuit. Le rapport du coroner, publié fin avril 1994, a révélé qu’elle était morte d’une insuffisance rénale due à un cancer du col de l’utérus (NDLR, on ne voit pas trop le rapport …).

Une bataille d’expert s’est déclenchée entre l’hôpital et la famille Ramirez qui pointait du doigt des soins inappropriés avec une hystérie collective du personnel soignant …

Trois ans plus tard, d’autres experts ont avancé une théorie originale, mais toujours pas avalisée: selon eux, Ramirez aurait utilisé (sans en prévenir l’hôpital) du diméthylsulfoxyde (DMSO) comme antidouleur topique maison. Ce traitement topique contre la douleur a pu réagir avec l’oxygène administré par les médecins pour former du diméthylsulfone. Ce produit chimique est connu pour se cristalliser à température ambiante, ce qui pourrait expliquer pourquoi des cristaux ont été observés dans l’échantillon de sang. Les décharges électriques de sa défibrillation auraient alors pu transformer le diméthylsulfone en sulfate de diméthyle, un gaz hautement toxique et corrosif. 

Allez savoir !

Sources:

Wikipedia 

Anguille sous roche

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