Symptoms, incubation period and transmission – you need to know

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The monkeypox virus has already reached Germany. How do experts assess symptoms and risk? Overview.

BERLIN – Monkeypox has now also reached Germany. After the first cases were recorded in Great Britain in early May, the virus spread steadily. There are now confirmed cases of monkeypox in Europe, North America and Australia.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), monkeypox was first detected in humans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970 – a nine-year-old boy was infected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been cases in more than a dozen countries on the continent. Pathogens can be transmitted by different types of animals and belong, like the Corona virus, to zoonotic diseases. According to the RKI, rodents are particularly affected. But how dangerous is monkeypox and what are the symptoms that warn of signs of infection?

More and more monkeypox infections are being reported worldwide: Germany, France and Australia have also been affected. © Billy Tompkins/Imago

Monkeypox infection: these are the symptoms

According to the RKI report, monkeypox infection can be seen through many symptoms. While the usual skin changes such as spots and blisters form after one to three days, then peel and flake, there are other immediate symptoms as well:

Severe headache and body aches
Sore throat
Cough
exhaustion
Sudden fever up to 40 degrees
swollen lymph nodes
Source: RKI

Monkeypox: How dangerous is the virus really?

But how dangerous is the monkeypox virus to humans? Gerd Sutter, Head of the Department of Virology at the Institute of Infectious Medicine and Zoonoses at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, gives his assessment of the situation. The virologist has reported two types of monkeypox virus so far:

  • Infections in Central Africa: Highly generalized diseases, similar to the now eradicated human smallpox, are possible.
  • Infections in West Africa: A mostly mild course is observed. Symptoms are fever and only a small amount of smallpox on the skin and mucous membranes.

According to his estimation, the cases that emerged in Europe are “an infection originally imported from Nigeria (the standard case in Great Britain), which is now likely to be transmitted from person to person in limited chains of infection. The first genetic investigations in Great Britain identified a viral strain that could be assigned of monkeypox virus found in West Africa”. But could a pandemic or even a pandemic occur?

Monkeypox infection: is there a risk of an epidemic or a pandemic?

Fabian Leanderts, a zoonoses expert and group lead for projects at RKI, sees a pandemic already coming. I would really call this an epidemic, but this epidemic is unlikely to last for long. Contact tracings can be isolated well and there are also effective drugs and vaccines that can be used if needed.”

Virologist Sutter also does not see any significant danger. Because: The monkeypox virus is usually transmitted only through direct contact. “Aerosol transmission is empirically possible, but plays at most a secondary role in natural infection. Thus, monkeypox transmissions are relatively ineffective compared to other infections such as influenza or COVID-19, and in combination with appropriate measures of diagnosis and contact tracing, usually result in Only to the development of short chains of infection.A large epidemic in Germany and Europe as “low”.

Monkeypox: How long is the incubation period for the virus?

The RKI has already published information on the length of time between infection with monkeypox and the onset of the disease. “The incubation period is about 5-21 days,” the institute states on its website. (slow)

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