After Great Britain reported the first monkeypox infections three weeks ago, the virus continues to spread. The Ministry of Health expects the number of cases to increase. Some countries are already responding. Do we have to adjust to this in this country as well?

The Federal Ministry of Health expects increasing numbers of infections with monkeypox in the coming days. “Due to the diverse contacts of those currently infected, further diseases are to be expected in Europe and also in Germany,” says a report for the Bundestag’s health committee. At least six cases were recorded nationwide by Monday evening. Samples from numerous other people are currently being analyzed, and authorities are also looking for contact persons who have been proven to be infected.

Well over 100 cases of the rare smallpox virus have now been detected worldwide. Because of the long incubation period of up to three weeks, experts are still expecting a large number of new reports in the near future.

Some countries have already reacted to this: In Belgium, those infected must now isolate themselves for 21 days. A spokeswoman confirmed the corresponding reports on Monday. In Great Britain there is a quarantine recommendation for close contacts. They are told to stay home for three weeks if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox. Close contact is defined as someone who is in contact with a sick person

The British health authority also recommends a smallpox vaccination. According to the UKHSA, a “third generation” vaccine against smallpox, which is believed to be extinct in humans, is to be used for this purpose. Experts assume that such smallpox vaccines also protect well against monkeypox.

According to the report by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), whether smallpox vaccination is recommended for contact persons and risk groups in Germany is still the subject of technical clarification. According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, recommendations for isolation and quarantine are also being drawn up for Germany.

He assumes that they could be presented as early as Tuesday. In order to be able to vaccinate people who are particularly at risk in case of doubt, he has already contacted a manufacturer who makes vaccines specifically for monkeypox, according to Lauterbach.

However, experts are rather relaxed about the new cases of monkeypox. “The danger situation is low because the 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,” said Tobias Tenenbaum, Chairman of the German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, the “Neue Osnabrück newspaper”. The corona-related vigilance will lead to the rapid identification of contact persons of infected people. There is “probably no new epidemic coming our way”.

Virologist Klaus Stöhr also explained to the “Bild”: “The chance of contracting monkeypox is smaller than being struck by lightning.” It is important to keep an eye on the virus and to inform the health service, “but thinking about a pandemic or about vaccines or how to protect yourself is not proportionate to the risk.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) also does not consider mass vaccinations to be necessary. Hygiene and preventive sexual behavior alone could limit the spread of the virus, Richard Pebody, head of the pathogen team at WHO Europe, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the German Hospital Society (DKG) warns to be vigilant. “Corona has taught us to take a very close look at developments around the world. Because in a globalized world, not only goods spread quickly, but also diseases,” said Gerald Gaß, head of the association, to the RND. “But according to the current state of knowledge, we don’t have to fear a monkeypox pandemic.”

At the beginning of May, a case of monkeypox was detected in Great Britain – according to experts, the pathogen was already circulating in many countries. The first case in Germany was reported from Bavaria, and there are now reports from other federal states such as Berlin, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg.

The virus usually causes only mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain and skin rash. However, monkeypox can also have serious consequences, and fatal illnesses are possible in individual cases. The consequences of surviving an infection can be scarring and, rarely, blindness.