Monkeypox: Doctors warn against over-worrying

Status: 05/24/2022 12:39 p.m

According to the WHO, more than 250 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide – and the number is rising. German doctors see no risk of a new pandemic. Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach wants to inform about measures today.

The corona pandemic is not over yet, when the next disease, monkeypox, spreads. But doctors warn of “scaremongering” – it is unlikely that a new epidemic or even a pandemic is imminent.

In an interview with the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”, the chairman of the German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Tobias Tenenbaum, primarily mentioned the different transmission paths of the pathogens. The monkeypox virus is only passed on through “close physical contact, i.e. through body fluids or crusts and not through droplet infection such as sneezing, coughing or speaking”.

Thomas Fischbach, President of the Professional Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ), also emphasized for this reason that monkeypox is “far less contagious than Corona”.

No increased risk of infection for children

Parents, in particular, shouldn’t have to worry too much. “It is extremely unlikely that children will contract monkeypox in the current situation in Europe,” Tenenbaum said. So far there have been no cases in Europe in which the virus has spread within a family.

Studies from Africa indicate that children have a higher mortality rate after contracting monkeypox. However, according to BVKJ President Fischbach, this data cannot be directly transferred to local conditions due to the poorer general health situation there.

According to current knowledge, the German Hospital Society also sees no risk of a monkeypox pandemic. The head of the association, Gerald Saß, nevertheless warned the editorial network Germany to be vigilant:

Corona has taught us to take a very close look at developments worldwide. Because in a globalized world, not only goods spread quickly, but also diseases.

Doctors are confident that the protective and hygiene measures in place during the corona pandemic can also protect against monkeypox infections and that it is easier to identify possible contact persons of infected people.

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Lauterbach wants to provide information about measures

In Germany, monkeypox cases have so far been reported in Berlin, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 250 confirmed or suspected cases from 16 countries have been reported worldwide. However, this number only applies to countries in which the viral disease has not previously occurred regularly – unlike in some African countries. There have been 1,200 suspected cases in the Congo since the beginning of the year.

The first case of monkeypox has also been confirmed in Slovenia, the Slovenian news channel N1 reported. A man who was recently in the Canary Islands was infected. He is being treated as an inpatient in Ljubljana.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle pain and skin rash. The incubation period can be up to three weeks, so the WHO expects further infections. The Federal Ministry of Health also assumes further infections in Germany, but overall only a limited outbreak of monkeypox is to be expected. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), made a similar statement. The risk to the general public is currently low.

In the course of the day, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to comment on possible measures to prevent the spread of monkeypox as far as possible. This could include the isolation and quarantine of infected people. In addition to Lauterbach, RKI boss Wieler and doctor’s president Klaus Reinhardt are to take part in today’s press conference on the sidelines of the German Doctors’ Day in Bremen.

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World Medical Association to provide immunization to vulnerable groups

The chairman of the board of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, had already spoken out in favor of making a vaccination offer, especially for younger generations who no longer received the smallpox vaccination. This vaccination was mandatory in West Germany until 1975 and in East Germany until 1982.

“We should primarily think of the groups that are currently particularly at risk – i.e. usually younger men with a lot of changing sexual contacts.” So far, there has been an increased risk of infection, especially for men who have sexual contact with men.

In an interview with SWR, Medical President Reinhardt also advocated vaccinating particularly vulnerable groups. In addition, people who have become infected should be isolated.

USA prepare vaccination campaign

The United States is already preparing to vaccinate against monkeypox on a larger scale. According to the health authority CDC, priority should be given to vaccinating close contacts of infected people, as well as health care workers and risk groups, including people with a weakened immune system or certain skin diseases. According to the CDC, the United States currently has around 1,000 doses of vaccine against smallpox and monkeypox. However, further deliveries of vaccines should be made “very quickly”.

In addition to the United States, Great Britain is also increasing its stocks of vaccine against smallpox, as reported by the AFP news agency. Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach says he has already contacted a manufacturer who produces vaccines specifically for monkeypox. A vaccination recommendation for people who are particularly at risk is currently being considered.

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However, the WHO currently sees no reason to vaccinate en masse against monkeypox. Hygiene and preventive sexual behavior would help contain the spread of the virus. The most important measures to combat the outbreak are tracing contacts and isolating those who are infected.

Corona strategy and monkeypox: Lauterbach speaks at the Doctors’ Day

Lothar Lenz, ARD Berlin, 24.5.2022 6:11 a.m

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