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Monkeypox: Can the global spread still be stopped?

Monkeypox: Can the global spread still be stopped?

It is almost the highest alert level of the World Health Organization (WHO). This has no immediate practical consequences. However, it is intended to rouse governments to be vigilant and prepare for a further spike in cases – because in this case the WHO would not assume that the current outbreak is over anytime soon.

At the end of May, the largest international spread of the disease, initially known as monkeypox, began – the WHO is considering changing the misleading name. According to the data platform “Our World in Data” there were 3,157 confirmed cases worldwide as of Tuesday, June 21. 794 of them in Great Britain alone, 469 in Germany, 304 in Portugal, 142 in the USA and 95 in the Netherlands. According to the WHO, one death has been confirmed.

And more and more countries are reporting cases, most recently Australia on Monday and Singapore and South Korea on Wednesday. However, Europe remains the epicenter of the outbreak, says WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge recently.

What is monkeypox actually?

Monkeypox is a viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus. In regions of central and west Africa, where the disease is recurrent and endemic, the virus is common in rodents, e.g. B. squirrels or rats. Unlike smallpox, which was eradicated in 1979, this disease is usually much milder.

Where did the name monkeypox actually come from?

“The name monkeypox comes from the fact that in 1958 monkeys kept in captivity for research purposes developed a smallpox-like disease, which was then called monkeypox (Monkeypox),” writes the virologist Monika Redlberger-Fritz in the Virus epidemiological information. Monkeys and primates in general are likely to be dead-end hosts for the virus.

How many cases have there been in Austria so far?

So far, eleven cases have been confirmed in Austria. Men between the ages of 20 and 50 are affected.

How do you stick?

The Ministry of Health lists in a information sheet five key options:

  • Direct exposure to monkeypox rash (eg, blisters, scabs)
  • Direct contact with bodily fluids from monkeypox infected people
  • Direct contact with mucous membranes of monkeypox infected people
  • Droplet infection with direct close contact of longer duration
  • Direct contact with virus-contaminated objects (e.g. bedding, clothing)

What are the symptoms?

After an incubation period of 7-21 days (usually 10 to 14 days), there is a sudden onset of fever (38.5 – 40.5 degrees Celsius), severe headaches, back pain, coughing, indisposition and a strong feeling of weakness, writes Redlberger-Fritz . Diarrhea sometimes occurs in the early stages. Swelling of the lymph nodes is also very common. “After a period of 2-3 days, there is a transition to the eruptive stage with a mucous membrane rash in the mouth and throat and a skin rash, especially on the face, hands and forearms.” Skin changes can also occur in the genital area.

“First there is redness, which develops into papules (nodules) and then into pustules and blisters.” These eventually crust over and heal.

What role do sexual contacts play?

The vast majority of those affected are currently men who have sex with multiple male sexual partners (MSM). “The virus may have penetrated highly interconnected sexual networks in the MSM community, where it can spread in a way that is not possible in the general population,” science journalist Kai Kupferschmidt recently wrote in the science magazine Science – the KURIER reported. According to the German physician Christian Hoffmann, a clear risk group can be identified among men who have sex with men: “Those who really have many different and risky sexual contacts,” he explained in one mirror-Interview.

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