Anyone infected with the monkeypox virus must isolate themselves for 21 days in Belgium in the future. This was decided by Belgian health authorities on Friday in order to contain the spread of the disease, reports the Belgian news magazine "The Brussel Times". The incubation period is expected to last between five days and three weeks.
Meanwhile, the German Federal Ministry of Health expects monkeypox cases to increase. "Due to the multiple contacts of those currently infected, further cases are to be expected in Europe and also in Germany," it said in a report for the Bundestag's health committee.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are now four confirmed cases of infection and illness in Germany - one in Munich and three in Berlin, it said. Samples of further persons are in clarification. Contact persons would be determined.
"This is now an incident with international spread," the ministry report, obtained by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, added. More than 130 confirmed cases and suspected cases have been detected in numerous countries, it said, "with a daily upward trend." So far, the West African monkeypox variant has been detected in the infections identified in Europe, but further genome analyses are ongoing, it said.
In order to register possible diseases and prevent further spread, diagnosed cases of infection should be systematically recorded and isolated. These should be reported by physicians and laboratories in accordance with the Infection Protection Act.
Argentina's Ministry of Health also reported a first suspected case in the capital Buenos Aires. No cases had previously been registered in Latin America. This is the first time that chains of infection have occurred outside African countries.
Usually only mild symptoms such as fever
"Smallpox vaccination presumably also protects against monkeypox," explains the Federal Ministry of Health. In the Federal Republic, it was compulsory for one-year-olds until 1975, and in the GDR, compulsory vaccination was lifted in 1982. According to the report, the federal government has stockpiled about 100 million doses of smallpox vaccine. Of that, two million doses were donated to and stored for the World Health Organization (WHO). The extent to which smallpox vaccination is recommended for contacts and at-risk groups is still subject to expert clarification, it said.
The ministry refers to the already published risk assessment of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), according to which a threat to the health of the general population in Germany is considered low according to current knowledge.
According to health authorities, the virus usually causes only mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain and skin rash. However, monkeypox can also have severe courses, and fatal illnesses are possible in individual cases.
No evidence of spread via the respiratory tract
According to the RKI, the virus usually spreads in rodents and is transmitted from there to humans. Infections of humans are most likely to occur through close physical contact or so-called smear infections, i.e. contact with contaminated materials.
The WHO is developing guidelines to contain the spread of the disease. There are fears that the number of cases could continue to rise during the summer months, the WHO's chief adviser on infectious threats, David Heymann, told Reuters agency. However, he said, the monkeypox outbreak is not comparable to the early days of the coronavirus pandemic because the disease is not as easily transmitted.
The Argentine Ministry of Health reported the first suspected case of monkeypox infection, which is actually restricted to African countries, in the capital Buenos Aires. Symptoms were consistent with those seen in monkeypox, the ministry said Sunday. It said the patient had recently returned from Spain, was in stable condition and was in isolation pending the evaluation of further tests.
Photo by Irwan Iwe