A case of monkeypox has also been confirmed in Germany for the first time. The Bavarian Ministry of Health announced on Friday that a 26-year-old Brazilian who had traveled from Portugal to Munich via Spain was affected. He has been in the Bavarian capital for about a week, having been in Düsseldorf and Frankfurt am Main. This is the first case of monkeypox ever recorded in Germany; according to the Robert Koch Institute, the virus had never been detected in this country before.
The patient has only minor symptoms with mild dysphagia and elevated temperature and does not yet require special medication. He will remain in hospital as he is expected to be contagious for three to four weeks.
According to health authorities, the virus usually only causes mild symptoms, but can also have severe course. In individual cases, fatal diseases are possible. The virus is mainly transmitted by direct contact or by contact with contaminated materials. Transmission by droplets in the air is also possible over shorter distances – which is probably very rare.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is not surprised by this first detection: “It was only a matter of time before monkeypox was also detected in Germany”. Doctors and patients in Germany are sensitized by reports from other countries. He does not assume that there are currently a large number of unreported cases in Germany, he said. “Based on the knowledge available to date, we assume that the virus is not so easily transmitted and that this outbreak can be contained,” Lauterbach explained. There are two variants of the pathogen – at the moment it can be assumed that the West African variant, which causes less severe developments, is currently circulating, and not the Congolese variant. The virus will be further analyzed for clarification.
Charité infectious disease specialist Leif Sander sees the more than 100 cases worldwide in which monkeypox is suspected or has already been confirmed, an unusually dynamic situation. “With the long incubation period, I expect a further significant increase in cases,” he wrote on Twitter. It should be noted that monkeypox is not so contagious that it can be expected to spread over a wide area like Corona. “It’s very serious, but we are ready.”
The observed accumulation is already an epidemic – but it is “very unlikely that this epidemic will last for long”, said Fabian Leendertz, founding director of the Helmholtz Institute for One Health (HIOH) in Greifswald and leader of the project group. Epidemiology of highly pathogenic diseases. Pathogen at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Cases can be reduced well through contact tracing and there are effective drugs and vaccines that could be used. According to Leendertz, more data is urgently needed in order to be able to understand if and how the recorded cases are linked. It is also important to decipher the genome of viral material from samples of affected people in order to check whether the pathogen has changed – for example in the direction of better transmissibility.
Virus detections also in France, Canada, Australia and the United States
Monkeypox infections are currently being detected in more and more countries. France also reported a first case on Friday, and the virus has also been discovered in the United States, Canada and Australia and therefore in other regions of the world. The extent to which the pathogen, which originated in Africa, has already spread internationally is unclear. With the large number of cases, he assumes the virus has been circulating unnoticed for some time, said doctor Norbert Brockmeyer, president of the German STI Society. STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infections.
According to a media report, 30 cases have now been confirmed in Spain. There are also 23 suspected cases, the newspaper reported. the vanguard Friday, citing the Department of Health. In Portugal, according to the newspaper Audience 23 confirmed cases. The person infected in Australia had previously returned from the UK. The number of cases recorded there has risen from 9 to 20, as announced on Friday by the British Minister of Health, Sajid Javid. The country bought the smallpox vaccine – how much and who should be vaccinated with this vaccine was initially unclear.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had called for rigorous monitoring of all contacts of those affected. Clinics and the public should be made aware of the symptoms. So far, the majority or perhaps even all of the cases have involved men, and in many cases they are said to have had sexual contact with men. According to Brockmeyer, people who have sexual contact with many different people are most at risk of infection. Germany’s Aidshilfe warned of misleading conclusions and stigmatization in view of cases among gay men. “Of course, there were superficial similarities between monkeypox and HIV at the time – it’s another disease from Africa that also affects gay men. But the comparison doesn’t hold up in many other ways” said AIDS spokesperson Holger Wicht.
Unlike HIV, the virus that causes monkeypox was longest known in the 1980s, and the disease has also healed itself. “It is very important to us that panic and unreasonable fears do not arise here.” There are still uncertainties when assessing the severity of the disease – for example how immunocompromised people – this may include, for example, people with HIV infection who have not been treated for many years – face the disease. The disease is named monkeypox after the pathogen was first detected in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. Experts suspect that the virus actually circulates among squirrels and rodents, while monkeys and humans are considered false hosts.
The first patient with monkeypox was described in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. To date, the disease is observed mainly in remote villages in the tropical rainforest of West and Central Africa. The hardest hit is the Congo, where sometimes more than 1,000 patients a year were registered. Outside of Africa, monkeypox has only been described from a handful of countries; these were always imported cases.