The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, told the newspapers of the Funke media group, according to a statement on Monday, for younger people who did not receive the previous compulsory vaccination against normal smallpox, such a vaccination would now be “sensible”. Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) expects a quick recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) on possible vaccination against monkeypox.
A total of four cases of monkeypox were registered in Germany by Sunday afternoon. After the first case of illness recorded in Munich, there were three other confirmed infections in Berlin, as announced by the Federal Ministry of Health. Further cases are to be expected given the extensive contacts of the infected. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) announced at the World Health Assembly in Geneva that he would present isolation and quarantine recommendations together with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Tuesday.
Normal smallpox vaccination has a partial preventive effect
Montgomery emphasized with regard to a possible vaccination: “Anyone who has been vaccinated against smallpox has good protection.” Anyone who is younger and does not have this vaccination is at higher risk of contracting monkeypox. “It would therefore make sense to offer vaccination to all younger people who are no longer subject to compulsory smallpox vaccination,” emphasized the doctor.
The groups that are currently particularly at risk are in the foreground – “i.e. usually younger men with many changing sexual contacts”. Such a vaccination campaign only makes sense if it is global.
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. However, the normal smallpox vaccination is 85 percent preventive. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, the extent to which smallpox vaccination is recommended for contact persons and risk groups is still the subject of international technical clarification.
In West Germany, smallpox vaccination was compulsory for one-year-olds until 1975. In the GDR, compulsory vaccination was lifted in 1982. In 1980 smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The federal government has therefore stored around one hundred million doses of smallpox vaccine, of which two million doses were donated to the WHO.
“We need a prompt statement from Stiko as to whether the vaccine, which is only approved in the EU for vaccination against smallpox, can also be used against monkeypox,” Holetschek told the portal “The Pioneer”.
More education recommended
According to current knowledge, men who have sex with men are obviously more likely to be infected. According to the information, the sources of infection for the cases of monkeypox that have been confirmed in Germany so far were parties in Berlin and on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, which involved sexual acts.
In all four cases, it is the so-called West African variant, which is suspected of causing milder diseases. The German Aidshilfe and the Federal Center for Health Education want to address possible risk groups more specifically. The WHO also recommends more education.
Lauterbach warned against “stigmatization”. No matter what sexual orientation someone has, it is important to avoid unprotected sex.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that often starts on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. Most people recover within a few weeks. According to the current state of research, close physical contact is required for transmission.