After the first cases of monkeypox infections in Germany became known, calls were made to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) to take joint action in the EU and to improve the information situation in Germany.
“It is crucial to find out how the current accumulation of cases could come about,” said the CDU health politician Tino Sorge WELT. “We need to know whether the transmission routes, the danger of the virus or other factors have changed.” The Federal Ministry of Health and the Robert Koch Institute would have to monitor events carefully. “Now it’s time to compile the information available from different countries into a picture of the situation,” said Sorge. “There is no reason to panic.”
Prevention and education must be intensified in the short term. According to experts, transmission from person to person is rare and only possible with close contact. “Should it be confirmed that a particularly large number of infections can be traced back to unprotected sexual contacts, the new risk must be pointed out, especially in exposed environments.”
After a first case in Bavaria, there are also two confirmed cases of monkeypox in Berlin. It can be assumed that further infections may be registered in the next few days, the Senate Health Administration announced in the capital. The condition of the patients is stable, and investigations into contact persons are ongoing.
Experts assume that the patients will be infectious for three to four weeks. According to this, infection from person to person is possible, but usually only with intensive physical contact. The first symptoms appear after seven to 21 days. These include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swelling of the lymph nodes and a widespread rash. The monkeypox virus has currently been detected in several countries. So far, there have been reports and suspected cases on three continents.
The health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, called for a joint European response: “A Europe-wide coordinated approach by the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HARE) and the health ministers in the EU would be essential.” The public attention and concern new or unknown infectious diseases during the ending corona pandemic is great. “That’s why transparency and enlightening communication without sensationalist rhetoric is important.”
Doctors and the public health service must be well informed about the infectious disease so that diagnoses can be made in good time. The monkeypox virus is medically “no stranger” and so far there has been no evidence of mutations, according to Ullmann. Approved vaccines and drugs are available. There are currently no indications of a pandemic happening. “At the moment, specific protective measures for the population do not appear to be necessary.”
Linke health expert Kathrin Vogler warned the government not to make the same mistakes as at the beginning of the spread of the corona virus, “which was first played down, only to then lapse into all the more hectic activism”. “What must not happen is that the occurrence of the disease leads to the exclusion of certain minorities. A disease is never the fault of those who contract it.” As with HIV in the beginning, monkeypox now appeared to predominantly affect homosexual and bisexual men. “We must all resolutely oppose any attempt to use this as a reason for discrimination.”
The deputy SPD parliamentary group leader, Dagmar Schmidt, explained that the outbreak of monkeypox was in no way comparable to the corona pandemic, since the disease is much more difficult to transmit and the routes of infection are also “completely different”. “Nevertheless, it is of course important to monitor the situation very carefully. And that is exactly what is happening.”
Monkeypox infections are on the rise in the UK. “We are discovering more cases every day,” UKHSA chief medical adviser Susan Hopkins told the BBC on Sunday. According to her, the rare viral disease is now spreading in Great Britain without being connected to West or Central Africa, where it is native.
Great Britain had reported 20 cases by Friday, and Hopkins has now announced a new balance sheet for Monday with the numbers from the weekend. There are “new” cases every day, she said. In most infected adults, the symptoms are “relatively mild”. She initially did not want to confirm reports that an affected person had to be treated in the intensive care unit.
According to Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi, the British government has already started buying up stocks of smallpox vaccine. “We take it very, very seriously.”
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