“There will be no epidemic” of monkeypox in Europe

“There will be no epidemic” of monkeypox in Europe

New cases of monkeypox have been discovered in Germany. Scientists say there is no reason to panic, but that the matter must be taken seriously. It is unclear how the wave of infection reached Europe.

After the first case of monkeypox in Germany was reported in Bavaria, two cases were confirmed in Berlin on Saturday. The Berlin Senate announced that they were infected in a stable condition, but that new cases are expected in the coming days.

The disease, which has unexpectedly spread to Europe in recent days, has also been registered in Switzerland and Israel. At the beginning of May, it appeared in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, but also in the USA and Australia.

It is not yet known whether Germany has caught up with the West African or much more contagious Central African variant of this virus. This will be clear only after detailed examinations. Doctors already have more questions than answers at the moment.

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    The most affected are homosexual men who have recently had sexual intercourse, said Leif Erik Zander, an infectologist from the Charité clinic in Berlin.

“As the infection is transmitted by close contact with the skin and, possibly, mucous membranes and droplets, I recommend special caution and avoiding close unprotected contact with strangers,” said Zander.

Berlin health senator Ulrike Gotte said that “there is no reason to panic, but there is reason to be careful because scientific knowledge about the disease is still conditional, because the disease is rare.”

Gotha said experts do not believe monkeypox will cause a pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute treats the danger to public health as “low” because the virus is transmitted by close contact with the skin.

It is unclear where this wave in Europe came from. “This will not cause national epidemics like a covid,” said Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of public health in London. “But this is a serious illness.”

Symptoms include fever, headache and muscle aches, and a rash that usually starts on the face and spreads throughout the body. However, the disease can pass so mildly that there is no rash and the infected can accidentally infect others.

Most people recover after a few weeks, deaths are rare. Children and pregnant women are more at risk.

Is the smallpox vaccine still working?

Smallpox is an endemic disease in parts of Africa. They were already in Europe in 2018, but then all the patients could be found to have either arrived from Africa or had contact with animals imported from there.

Monkeypox is a “cousin” of smallpox (smallpox) that has been considered an eradicated disease since the 1980s.

One of the last waves of smallpox in Europe was the one in Yugoslavia in 1972, when almost the entire population was vaccinated in just a few weeks.

Scientists believe that today the older generations, who have been vaccinated against smallpox, are better protected than monkeys.