Cases of people infected with the rare monkeypox virus are increasing worldwide. Now the virus has also appeared in Germany. Here you can find out what to do if you have a noticeable skin rash and suspected infection.

The number of cases of people infected with monkeypox is increasing worldwide. After the virus infection first appeared in England at the beginning of May, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now aware of more than 250 cases in 16 different countries – including Germany. Experts assume that the number of infections will probably continue to increase in the coming days.

After more than two years of the pandemic, many are now wondering how dangerous infection with the rare monkeypox is – and whether it poses a comparable epidemic risk potential as the corona virus.

“This is not the beginning of a new pandemic,” Karl Lauterbach (SPD) gave the all-clear at a press conference on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the Minister of Health emphasizes the importance of containing the spread as quickly as possible. Good contact tracking and caution can get the virus under control. “We have a good chance of stopping this pathogen, not only in Germany, but throughout Europe.”

In the meantime, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has also drawn up a recommendation for the federal states: Isolation for at least 21 days is recommended for infected people, and an isolation requirement is being planned. Contact persons of infected people should also be in quarantine for 21 days. But how does a monkeypox infection show up at all? How do you get infected? And when do you have to be in quarantine? An overview of the most important questions.

The Robert Koch Institute has recorded the typical symptoms of a monkeypox infection on its website:

Symptoms should last about two to four weeks. As the RKI reports, the rashes usually form crusts and fall off after a while. They are contagious to other people along with bodily fluids. Damage to the skin sometimes also occurs in the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. In the most recent cases, the skin changes were also found in the genital and anal areas.

Most cases are mild, so treatment is usually not necessary. The RKI writes this on its website. However, monkeypox can also have severe courses, and in individual cases even fatal diseases are possible. In endemic countries, encephalitis, bacterial skin infections, dehydration, conjunctivitis, corneal and pneumonia have been recorded.

Severe courses with the above-mentioned complications have so far been very rare. Most people usually recovered within a few weeks, emphasizes RKI President Lothar Wieler. The consequences of surviving an infection can be scarring and, rarely, blindness.

Transmission of the virus is generally possible through close contact and contaminated materials. It is transmitted primarily through body fluids. The scabs of an infected person can also be contagious. In contrast to Corona, transmission via the air is hardly possible.

If you notice an unusual rash and are considering contracting monkeypox, you should contact your local health department immediately.

At the first symptoms, avoid contact with other people and contact your family doctor or, if necessary, an HIV specialist practice – preferably by telephone. As the RKI writes, the incubation period can be up to three weeks.

As the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” reports, laboratory diagnostics for monkeypox viruses have so far only been carried out in certain cases. For this purpose, samples are taken from weeping skin changes, blister fluid, pustule contents or crusts. Other cuts are also possible. For laboratory diagnostics, the person concerned must meet the following conditions:

During the acute phase of the disease, a PCR test is also ordered, with detection being carried out using an electron microscope. Since the orthopoxviruses that infect humans can trigger very similar immune responses, detection of antibodies in a blood sample is not relevant, writes the RKI.

It can be assumed that the regulations mentioned will change soon due to the current situation. According to the RKI, this is necessary because not all of those currently infected have traveled to an endemic area. People “with unclear smallpox-like skin changes should also be included in the extended considerations for a possible diagnosis.”

There is currently no specific vaccine against monkeypox. Doctors emphasize, however, that a general smallpox vaccination is also a reliable protection against monkeypox. It can be assumed that a kind of basic immunity exists in the majority of the population, since smallpox vaccination was compulsory in West Germany until 1976 (in the GDR even until 1982).

However, there is a special vaccination for infected people: 40,000 doses of “Imvanex” vaccine against the virus have already been ordered to Germany, Lauterbach explained on Tuesday afternoon. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that this vaccine was not available nationwide. Vaccination has so far only been considered for contact persons of infected people, as the “Tagesschau” reports. However, the vaccine can also be used to prevent infection or to prevent or delay the onset of the disease in those who are already infected.

In the event of an infection, the infected person should go into isolation for at least 21 days. The RKI recommends consistently avoiding contact with others, and protected sexual intercourse is also discouraged until the rash has subsided and the last scab has fallen off. That could take up to four weeks.

Medications and therapies can be discussed with the doctor treating you and support the course of the infection in mild cases. This can be useful to avoid major infections. Since the monkeypox virus can also attach itself to surfaces and fabrics over long periods of time, those affected should ideally not share bedding and household items and should clean and disinfect them after infection.

with agency material