The first cases of monkeypox infection have been detected in Berlin. This was confirmed by the Senate Department for Health on Saturday. According to Tagesspiegel information, there are three infected people: a 30-year-old, a 55-year-old and a case that is said to have been found in a Berlin hospital.
The investigations into contact persons were currently underway, the health administration said on Saturday afternoon, when two confirmed cases were initially assumed. Sequencing should reveal whether it is the West or Central African strain of the virus. “It can be assumed that further infections may be registered in the next few days.”
Health Senator Ulrike Gote (Greens) said there was no reason to panic, but reason to be cautious, as many scientific findings about the disease were still preliminary. “However, experts assume that we do not have to fear a new pandemic. But we now have to act quickly and consistently to identify and contain cases of infection.”
According to the attending physician, the Robert Koch Institute had confirmed the infection in a 55-year-old. The infection of the 30-year-old, who was initially considered a suspected case, was finally also confirmed by the RKI, as physician Heiko Jessen, who runs an infectiology practice in Schöneberg, told the Tagesspiegel.
Both are in outpatient isolation, Jessen said. A third case is said to have been found in a Berlin clinic.
Doctors expect the number of cases to increase
Jessen assumes that the number of monkeypox infections will increase significantly in the coming week. Both patients, the 30-year-old and the 55-year-old, took part in “club parties with sex from exposed groups”.
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Unlike the case previously registered in Munich, the 55-year-old is said to have not left Berlin for a long time. It was probably infected at a sex party in Berlin. The man had had a smallpox vaccination, two smallpox were found during the examination, and the disease had receded noticeably. After a PCR test, the Robert Koch Institute confirmed the infection on Friday.
The 30-year-old took part in a sex party on Gran Canaria in Spain, Jessen said. According to the DPA, the first symptoms appeared on Monday, around two weeks earlier he had been to Christopher Street Day in Gran Canaria. The symptoms are significantly stronger in this patient, who was not vaccinated against smallpox, Jessen told the Tagesspiegel.
Spanish authorities are investigating the suspicion that “Gay Pride” parties on the holiday island of Gran Canaria could have been another source of infection. The newspaper “El País” reported on Saturday, citing sources in the health sector. About 80,000 people from Spain and many other countries attended the event from May 5th to 15th.
Charité physician speaks of unusual dynamics
Leif Erik Sander, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, pointed out that the dynamics of the current monkeypox outbreak are unusual and must be taken very seriously. “So far we have observed a disproportionate increase in monkeypox infections among men, especially after sexual contact with other men.”
Since the infection is transmitted through close skin contact and possibly also through mucous membrane contact and droplets, he recommends particular caution and avoidance of close unprotected contact with unknown people. “Especially if there are typical symptoms of the disease, you should limit contacts and seek medical treatment quickly,” says Sander. “The Charité is prepared for the treatment of infected people and works closely with the RKI and the public health service.”
Appeal of the health administration
The health administration appealed that “close physical and sexual contact with changing or strangers should be avoided if possible” as a precautionary measure, since the infection is likely to occur via contact with the mucous membranes. “In any case, the rules of safer sex, such as the use of condoms, should be observed,” the administration said. “If you suspect that you are in contact with someone who is ill, please contact your district health department and stay at home, limit your contacts and avoid close physical contact with other people.”
The health administration is in close contact with the health authorities, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Charité and the Federal Ministry of Health in order to protect the Berlin population from the monkeypox virus as best as possible, said Health Senator Gote.
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The first case from Munich had previously become known on Friday. There the virus was found in a 26-year-old Brazilian who had recently traveled from Portugal to Munich via Spain.
According to the State Ministry of Health, there are also indications “of possible contact between people with the monkeypox virus” in North Rhine-Westphalia. A spokesman for the ministry told the German Press Agency on Saturday that these tips will be followed up.
Lauterbach: “It was only a matter of time”
After detecting the first case of monkeypox in Germany, Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) assumes that the outbreak can be contained. “It was only a matter of time before monkeypox was also detected in Germany,” said Lauterbach on Friday in Berlin. He does not assume that there are many unreported cases in Germany.
Doctors assume that a double smallpox vaccination, which older people received in childhood, protects against monkeypox. Jessen said that new vaccine should be obtained. An antiviral drug could also be available soon. A problem with monkeypox could be that internal organs could also be affected.
According to the RKI, transmission of the disease is “possible through close contact, but can occur through contact with bodily fluids or scabs from monkeypox infected people,” including through sexual activity. France, the US, Canada and Australia have also reported cases. Sweden classified the disease as dangerous for the general public. The WHO warns of the spread of monkeypox in Europe. The virus could spread especially at mass events in the summer months.
Monkeypox infection is considered a serious illness. In most of those affected, it goes away on its own and leaves no lasting damage. Symptoms are similar to smallpox – there is a rash on the face, palms or soles of the feet, scabs, fever, muscle aches and chills. According to the RKI, severe courses are also possible, and a higher mortality rate can be observed, especially in children. (with dpa)