ARCHIV - 18.05.2022, USA, ---: Diese elektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme aus dem Jahr 2003, die von den Centers for Disease Control and Prevention zur Verfügung gestellt wurde, zeigt reife, ovale Affenpockenviren (l) und kugelförmige unreife Virionen (r), die aus einer menschlichen Hautprobe im Zusammenhang mit dem Präriehundeausbruch von 2003 stammt. Im Rahmen des aktuellen Ausbruchs von Affenpocken sind in Deutschland inzwischen mehr als 1000 Fälle erfasst worden. (zu dpa «Über 1000 Affenpocken-Fälle in Deutschland gemeldet») Foto: Cynthia S. Goldsmith/Russell Regner/CDC/AP/dpa - ACHTUNG: Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung und nur mit vollständiger Nennung des vorstehenden Credits +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

In Germany, more than 1000 cases of monkeypox have now been recorded. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a total of 1054 transmitted cases from all federal states in an online overview as of Friday. So far, only cases in men have been transmitted to the RKI, but there are a few transmitted cases without specifying gender, said a spokeswoman on request.

The institute’s risk assessment is: “According to current knowledge, the RKI assesses the risk to the health of the general population in Germany as low.” Experts are observing the situation closely and classifying the new dimension of case numbers.

“Reaching this number is not worrying,” said Timo Ulrichs, an expert in global health at the Acre University of Human Sciences in Berlin. “It’s not nice and should have been controlled much better right from the start,” but the situation is not at all comparable to the corona pandemic. The first cases of monkeypox in Germany became known about six weeks ago.

According to the current state of knowledge, the actually rare viral disease, of which several thousand cases have been detected worldwide, is mainly transmitted through close physical contact from person to person. According to the WHO, most of those affected are men who have sex with men.

In general, however, anyone can become infected through close physical contact. Ulrichs emphasized that stigmatization must be decisively counteracted.

Because transmission is mainly sexual, the means of containment are clear: “Good communication, safer sex and consistent tracking of the rather short chains of infection,” says Ulrichs.

With this and possibly a vaccination, the spread can be contained well, “so that in the near future the numbers will only increase slightly and monkeypox will tend to be a side note in the following years”.

The RKI emphasizes that wearing condoms alone does not protect against infection. Infected people should avoid any kind of close contact, including protected sexual contact, with other people until the rash has cleared and the last scab has fallen off.

The virologist Norbert Nowotny from the University of Vienna said with regard to the worldwide infection process: This high number of infections in around 50 different countries outside the African endemic areas was not expected. He also emphasized that education and information must be intensified and, in particular, brought to the most affected sections of the population.

Monkeypox is considered a less serious disease compared to smallpox, which has been eradicated since 1980. Experts had warned of the virus spreading, for example at upcoming festivals and parties.

Symptoms (including fever and rash) usually go away on their own, but can lead to medical complications and, very rarely, death in some people.

The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) recommends vaccination for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

Nowotny explained that because the causative virus belongs to a strain that causes rather mild clinical courses, severe courses of the disease are rarely to be expected – except in immunocompromised people, for whom a specific antiviral drug is available. Nevertheless, the goal must be to “stop the outbreak over the next few months,” said the expert.

The main problem is the relatively long incubation period of up to three weeks. Infected people would therefore have to reliably inform the authorities of very close contact persons during this time. They would then have to order the necessary quarantine measures and, under certain circumstances, initiate a smallpox vaccination.

However, Nowotny’s forecast was also cautiously optimistic: If the funds were implemented promptly, it would probably be possible to limit and ultimately stop the outbreak in the next few months.

Surfaces that patients with monkeypox have touched may be highly contaminated with the virus. This is the result of a study by researchers at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) published on Friday. At the same time, the all-clear is given:

The study has not yet proven that other people can become infected through contact with the contaminated surfaces.

“We assume that surfaces would have to be very heavily contaminated in order to be able to get infected through contact with these surfaces,” said Johannes Knobloch, head of the study and the UKE’s hospital hygiene department.