The spread is rapid. In less than two weeks, the monkeypox virus has conquered half the globe. More than 100 cases in 12 countries and three continents (North America, Europe, Australia) outside of Africa. In Germany, too, there are now three documented cases of monkeypox.
People develop a fever and a rash, especially on the face, palms, and soles. For most people, symptoms go away on their own after two to four weeks.
The Robert Koch Institute: “Transmission from person to person is rare and only possible with close contact, but can occur through contact with bodily fluids or scabs of those infected with monkeypox.” Apparently particularly common: infections during sex. According to epidemiologist Raina MacIntyre (58), the majority of those infected worldwide are gay and bisexual men aged 20 to 50 who have sex with men.
In Spain, the authorities are investigating the suspicion that the “Maspalomas Pride” on Gran Canaria could have been an infection hotspot in the first half of May. Around 80,000 participants from the gay community attended the event. In Madrid, where there are 40 suspected cases alone, a sauna mostly frequented by young men is considered the place of infection.
However, the German Aidshilfe warns against stigmatizing homosexual men. “Of course, there are superficial similarities between monkeypox virus and HIV back then – it’s another disease from Africa that also affects gay men. But the comparison doesn’t fit in many other respects,” said AIDS spokesman Holger Wicht (50).
“People who have a lot of sexual contact are most at risk of infection. And not just men, but all genders,” explains Prof. Norbert Brockmeyer (70), an expert on sexually transmitted diseases.
The virus was first detected in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958 and the pathogen was therefore called Monkeypox Virus. It was a macaque species, so-called cynomolgus monkeys. Like humans, they develop skin rashes, for example on the face, when they become ill. Other monkey species such as chimpanzees can also become infected. Or even the human. However, the actual hosts of the virus in nature are rodents and squirrels that live in West and Central Africa.
Has there ever been Monkeypox Virus outbreak like this?
The first known case of Monkeypox Virus in humans was confirmed in 1970 in a nine-month-old boy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Nigeria alone there are 3000 cases per year. The largest outbreak outside of Africa was in 2003. Frankfurt virology professor Sandra Ciesek (44): “An outbreak in the USA with 71 cases in six countries. At that time, a trader had introduced Gambian opossums to the USA and housed them together with prairie dogs. There it was then transmitted to the prairie dogs and from them to humans.” The first German case of infection was confirmed on Friday in the Munich Bundeswehr laboratory (photo) and identified as a West African virus variant. Yesterday afternoon, the number of infections in Germany rose to three due to two detections in Berlin.
Don’t you know the monkeypox chief physician from somewhere?
On Friday afternoon, the infectiologist Prof. Clemens Wendtner (56) appeared in front of the TV cameras in Munich and informed about the first case of monkeypox virus infection in Germany. The 26-year-old male patient from Brazil is being treated at the Munich Clinic in Schwabing, where Wendtner is chief physician. Attentive observers of the corona pandemic may have had a déjà vu experience. Because Wendtner had already treated the first German corona patient in January 2020 – a then 33-year-old employee of the Bavarian car supplier Webasto, who had contracted the disease from a Chinese business partner.
Is it true that there is already a vaccination?
Yes. There is an approved smallpox vaccine in the EU that also protects against monkeypox virus. Many countries are also storing large stocks of an older live smallpox vaccine to protect populations in the event of a smallpox bioweapons use. Most people born after 1976 today have no immunity to smallpox. Reason: The obligation to vaccinate against smallpox was lifted in Germany in 1976. In the GDR there were no more smallpox vaccinations after 1980. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the eradication of smallpox. Vaccination (“ring vaccination”) is currently offered in Great Britain to people who have come into contact with monkeypox virus infected people.