It probably won't be a new pandemic, but the cases of monkeypox should be taken very seriously, says an infectiologist at the Berlin Charité. The dynamic is "unusual". Cases of the rare disease are also being reported from other countries.
The number of monkeypox cases reported outside of Africa is also increasing in Germany. One day after the nationwide first case of infection was reported in Bavaria, the Berlin Senate confirmed two cases of monkeypox in the federal capital. After the confirmation, the Senate Department for Health stated that it can be assumed “that further infections may be registered in the next few days”. Switzerland and Israel also reported their first case of infection, and a suspected case was investigated in Greece.
The infectiologist Leif Erik Sander from the Berlin Charité warned that the current outbreak of monkeypox must be taken very seriously. The condition of the infected is therefore “stable”. Investigations into possible contacts were ongoing. They should be informed about possible symptoms, hygiene measures and transmission routes. According to the Senate administration, ongoing sequencing should reveal whether the Berlin cases are from the West or Central African virus strain. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Central African virus variants in monkeypox are significantly more contagious than the West African virus variants.
According to Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU), the first confirmed monkeypox case in Germany that became known in Bavaria is an infection with the West African variant. This was the result of the genome sequencing of the virus at the Bundeswehr Institute for Microbiology in Munich.
The Berlin Senator for Health Ulrike Gote (Greens) emphasized that there is a close exchange with the health authorities, the RKI, the Charité and the Federal Ministry of Health in order to protect the population "as best as possible from the monkeypox virus". There is "no reason to panic, but reason to be cautious, as much scientific knowledge about the disease is still preliminary because it is so rare". According to Gote, experts assume "that we do not have to fear a new pandemic". However, action must now be taken "quickly and consistently".
The clinic director of infectiology at the Charité, Sander, explained that the dynamics of the current monkeypox outbreak are "unusual" and must therefore be taken very seriously until the chains of infection and transmission routes have been better investigated and effectively interrupted. Symptoms of monkeypox in humans include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that often starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. Most people recover from the disease within a few weeks, and death is rare.
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease. Since the beginning of May 2022, the pathogen has been spreading from person to person in Europe for the first time without an epidemiological connection to West or Central Africa. It has also been detected in several North American countries. According to the current state of research, the virus is less easily passed from person to person than, for example, the Covid 19 pathogen Sars-CoV-2. According to the current state of knowledge, close physical contact is required for transmission, which is why the RKI assumes that the outbreaks will remain limited. The RKI therefore currently assesses the risk to the health of the general public as low.
Switzerland confirmed its first case of monkeypox in the canton of Bern. The person concerned had apparently come into contact with the virus abroad, the regional health authorities said. In Israel, the first monkeypox infection was found in a 30-year-old man who recently returned from western Europe with symptoms of the infectious disease, a Tel Aviv hospital said. The Greek health authorities reported a suspected case in an English tourist. He and his travel companion were therefore isolated in a clinic. Test results are expected on Monday.