Monkey pox soon in Germany?
Pictures, symptoms, transmission - and for whom it is dangerous
Created: 05/19/2022Updated: 05/19/2022 17:54
By: Fabian Mueller
Monkeypox is currently causing an unusual accumulation of infections.
What does this mean for Europe?
And how dangerous are they for us?
Munich – The authorities from Great Britain reported the first case, the virus was probably brought into the country from Nigeria.
Suspected cases and evidence of monkeypox are now being reported from more and more countries.
The extent makes experts pay attention.
But how worrying is the outbreak?
How is the virus transmitted?
And what are the symptoms of an infection with monkeypox, which has so far been little known in this country?
Monkey pox in Germany?
The situation in western countries
Apparently, the pathogen has been spreading unnoticed in several western countries for a long time. In mid-May, numerous evidences from Europe and North America were known, including Great Britain, Spain, Portugal and Sweden.
No case was initially recorded for Germany.
However, in the course of the increased attention, further evidence can be expected, probably also in other regions of the world.
An electron micrograph shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox viruses (l) and spherical immature virions (r).
© Cynthia S. Goldsmith/Russell Regner/CDC/AP/dpa
Dangerous infectious disease in Germany: what is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus.
The pathogen was first detected in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958 - hence the name monkeypox.
Experts suspect, however, that the pathogen actually circulates in squirrels and rodents, monkeys are considered so-called false hosts.
The monkeypox virus can also be transmitted to humans.
Smallpox, caused by a virus from the same group, used to spread great terror.
A large proportion of those affected died from the infection.
The smallpox disease has been eradicated since 1980 following vaccination campaigns.
The last case in Germany was recorded in 1972.
Monkeypox in Germany: how dangerous is the virus?
According to the British authority UKHSA, the circulating variant of the monkeypox virus usually causes only mild symptoms, but can also have severe courses.
Epidemiologist Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia considers it very unlikely that diseases will be fatal in western countries.
But it's not impossible, he told the
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The West African variant of the virus, which occurs in Europe and the USA, kills around one percent of those infected in Africa.
There is also a Central African variant, with ten percent of cases on the continent being fatal.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, all age groups and both genders are equally susceptible.
Children are particularly affected by fatal courses in Africa.
Monkeypox in Germany: how is the virus transmitted?
In the cases currently recorded, the majority are men who have had sexual contact with other men.
The virus currently seems to be spreading mainly between homosexual or bisexual men, says virologist Stephan Becker from the University of Marburg.
However, intimate contact is only one possibility of transmission - it may be a coincidence that the virus was first carried to this group of people and then continued to circulate there.
According to the RKI, transmission to humans generally occurs through contact with infected animals or animal blood and secretions, through eating infected monkey meat and through droplet infection.
Epidemiologist Hunter told the
the virus infects contacts by getting from the pustules of sick people into wounds or the eyes of contacts, and inhaling droplets containing the particles is also a way.
This electron micrograph provided by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) shows the monkeypox virus.
© Andrea Männel/RKI/dpa
As with the corona virus and other pathogens, the detection is carried out with a sample of the person concerned using a so-called PCR test.
If the monkeypox virus is present, its genetic material is specifically multiplied in a special device and can then be easily detected.
Monkeypox in Europe: That's how contagious they are from person to person
The virus is actually considered to be less contagious.
With the current accumulation of infections, the detailed chains of infection are still largely unclear.
For the first known case in Great Britain, the health authority UKHSA assumes that it is due to an infection in Nigeria.
It remains to be clarified to what extent there were further entries from African regions into western countries.
However, it seems clear that the pathogen was then passed on to other people unusually often.
Currently (as of mid-May 2022), the transmission of monkeypox does not seem to take place through aerosols, estimates the Marburg virologist Becker.
"Then the pattern of propagation would be different."
Monkeypox in Germany: these are the symptoms
The symptoms include: sudden onset of fever, severe headache, back pain, sore throat, cough, and often also swollen lymph nodes.
A typical smallpox rash that spreads from the face to the body is also typical.
Blindness and disfiguring scars rarely occur as permanent damage.
The symptoms and possible secondary bacterial infections are treated; there is no therapy specifically aimed at monkeypox.
Monkeypox outbreak in Europe: Monkeypox can be confused with these infectious diseases
According to the UKHSA, at certain stages of the disease the rash can resemble chickenpox or syphilis.
The RKI sensitized doctors in Germany: Monkeypox should also be considered as a possible cause in the case of unclear smallpox-like skin changes if those affected have not traveled to certain areas.
According to the RKI, men who have sex with men should “immediately seek medical care” if they have any unusual skin changes.
Monkeypox Outbreak: Is There a Protective Vaccine?
There is no approved vaccine specifically against monkeypox.
According to historical data, however, a smallpox vaccination protects against monkeypox - and probably for life.
Vaccination with this vaccine is therefore considered a possible measure to at least protect people who have come into contact with monkeypox infected people.
According to Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia, this "helps quite effectively".
Appropriate supplies are therefore available and can be used with contact persons.