After the first cases of monkeypox in Germany, further containment measures are being prepared, according to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. Recommendations on isolation and quarantine are currently being developed with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said the SPD politician on Monday on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. He assumes that they could already be presented this Tuesday.
In addition, it is being considered “whether we might have to make vaccination recommendations for people who are particularly at risk,” explained the minister. This has not yet been clarified. This also includes checking whether vaccines might need to be procured, and if so, where.
He has already contacted a manufacturer who makes vaccines specifically for monkeypox. Lauterbach emphasized that vaccination of the general population is not under discussion here.
He advocated firm international containment. The global outbreak is so unusual that there is concern about whether it will be like previous monkeypox outbreaks. It is more likely that the way of spreading could have changed, “so that we now have to react quickly and hard to contain a global outbreak again”.
Lauterbach explained that according to previous knowledge, it was primarily men who had had sexual contact with men who were infected. It is now important to address the risk groups honestly. This is for their protection and should not be misunderstood as stigmatization. The minister appealed to all those who have had anonymous sex with men to look out for skin changes and fever and to seek medical treatment very quickly if they suspect it.
Monkeypox occurs mainly in West and Central Africa and very rarely elsewhere, making the current outbreaks unusual. Since the beginning of May, increasing numbers of cases have been detected in Europe. Symptoms include fever, headache, and skin rashes, which usually start on the face and spread to the rest of the body.
A World Health Organization adviser has linked the outbreak to sexual intercourse at raves in Europe. The most likely hypothesis is that homosexual and bisexual men passed on the monkeypox virus through sexual contact at two events in Spain and Belgium, David Heymann told the AP news agency in an interview.
It is unclear among scientists whether monkeypox was transmitted in Europe through sex or merely through close contact during sexual relationships. Because the contact during sex is very close, the transmissibility is likely to increase, said virologist Mike Skinner from Imperial College London. It doesn’t matter what the sexual orientation of the people involved is.
According to British authorities, a significant proportion of cases in Europe have been found in young gay or bisexual men who have not traveled to Africa in the past. According to the information, the situation was similar in Portugal and Spain.