"Reason for caution": First monkeypox cases in Berlin

The news about contagion with the monkeypox virus is piling up.

"Reason for caution": First monkeypox cases in Berlin

The news about contagion with the monkeypox virus is piling up. The authorities are also recording cases in Germany. Although health experts are quite surprised by the accumulation in Europe, they immediately give the all-clear: A situation like the one with the corona virus does not threaten.

Cases of monkeypox have also been detected in Berlin. A first case was confirmed to RTL/ntv by the attending physician. According to infectiologist Heiko Jessen, the person affected was probably infected in a Berlin club the weekend before last. The Senate Department for Health has now confirmed a total of two infections. The condition of the two patients is stable. In the RBB, referring to health circles, there was even talk of three confirmed cases in Berlin.

Investigations into contact persons are currently underway, the Berlin Senate Department for Health announced. Sequencing should reveal whether it is the West or Central African strain of the virus. "It can be assumed that further infections may be registered in the next few days." Health Senator Ulrike Gote emphasized that there is no reason to panic, but reason to be cautious, as many scientific findings about the disease are still preliminary. "However, experts assume that we do not have to fear a new pandemic. But we must now act quickly and consistently to identify and contain cases of infection."

On Friday there was the first confirmation of a case of monkeypox in Germany. According to the Bavarian Ministry of Health, it was about a 26-year-old from Brazil who had traveled from Portugal to Munich via Spain. The monkeypox virus usually causes only very mild symptoms, but can also have severe courses.

According to the State Ministry of Health, there are also indications "of possible contact between people with the monkeypox virus" in North Rhine-Westphalia. A spokesman for the ministry said these tips will be followed up. The State Center for Health is in close contact with the standing working group of the competence and treatment centers for diseases caused by highly pathogenic pathogens. "The situation is being closely monitored; the doctors and health authorities are being asked to be more vigilant," added the ministry spokesman. According to the current findings of the RKI, a risk to the health of the general population in Germany is considered to be low.

The first case of monkeypox in Germany was confirmed on Friday. The Bavarian Ministry of Health announced that a 26-year-old from Brazil who had traveled from Portugal to Munich via Spain was affected. He has been in the Bavarian capital for about a week, having previously been to Düsseldorf and Frankfurt am Main.

It is the first case of monkeypox ever recorded in Germany; according to the RKI, the virus had never been detected in this country before. Fever, severe headache, back pain, sore throat, cough, and often also swelling of the lymph nodes are possible symptoms. A rash that spreads from the face to the body is also typical. Blindness and disfiguring scars rarely occur as permanent damage. According to health authorities, the virus usually causes only mild symptoms, but can also have severe courses - for example in small children or immunocompromised people. In individual cases, fatal diseases are possible.

The virologist Sandra Ciesek made it clear on Twitter that people with a restricted immune system and people who live under poor hygienic conditions have a higher risk of a severe course of the disease. The virus is transmitted between humans "through close physical contact" with an infected person, Ciesek explained: "The skin rash, body fluids (such as liquid, pus or blood from skin lesions) and scab are particularly contagious." The saliva of patients can also be infectious.

The disease, which is particularly widespread in Central and West Africa, has been detected in several European and North American countries since the beginning of May. After the first cases in Great Britain, there were also reports from France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and the USA. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been mainly gay or bisexual men who have been infected. In principle, anyone can become infected with the virus.

The WHO warned on Friday of a rapid spread of monkeypox in Europe in the coming months. "I'm worried that the transmission could accelerate," said WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge, referring to events, festivals and parties that often take place in summer. According to Kluge, the spread of the rare disease is "atypical". "All but one of the most recent cases have no relevant history of travel to areas where monkeypox is endemic," Kluge said. The organization called for a rigorous follow-up of all contacts of those affected. Clinics and the population would have to be made aware of the symptoms.

The pandemic expert Peter Horby from the British University of Oxford was also surprised at the spread. Horby told the BBC it was an "unusual situation" as the virus was being transmitted outside of West and Central Africa. There is "apparently an element of sexual transmissibility," Horby said. Twenty cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the UK so far.

Meanwhile, Spanish authorities are investigating the suspicion that gay pride parties on the holiday island of Gran Canaria could have been another source of infection for monkeypox. This was reported by the newspaper "El País", citing sources in the health sector. About 80,000 people from Spain and many other countries took part in "Maspalomas Pride" from May 5 to 15, the newspaper reported. Men from Italy, from Madrid and from the neighboring island of Tenerife, where the virus was detected, are said to have taken part in the celebrations.

The veterinarian and virologist Gerd Sutter estimates the risk of a major monkeypox epidemic in Germany to be low. The cases of monkeypox currently observed in Europe are most likely infections that were originally brought in from Nigeria. "Transmission from person to person is possible and usually requires direct contact with infected people," says Sutter, who teaches at the Institute for Infectious Medicine and Zoonoses at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. The expert describes the chains of infection as short, especially compared to the corona virus. "One coughs and hundreds get infected: That doesn't exist with monkeypox," he told Die Zeit.


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