“Not again,” many must have thought when the first cases of monkeypox were reported in Germany. The disease has almost nothing in common with Corona. An overview.
Corona just seems to be under control when the next pathogen appears in Germany. Concern about monkeypox is spreading. This disease is also transmitted by viruses.
But that was it with the similarities. That’s why experts have so far been comparatively relaxed. The two pathogens in comparison:
During May, more and more countries reported cases of monkeypox. Overall, however, the WHO has so far only registered a few hundred infections as part of this outbreak. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around ten cases were last known in Germany (as of May 25). Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) recently said that he did not see the “eve of a new pandemic”. Contact tracing and caution can help get the situation under control.
The Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, on the other hand, has already established itself permanently in most countries around the world. There were more than half a billion registered infections – and many more under the radar. Many millions of people have died. In countries like Germany, the majority of the population now has a certain degree of protection through vaccination and/or infection.
According to the current state of knowledge, monkeypox is mainly transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, including via the contents of the blisters and scab. This severely limits its distribution. The fact that cases among gay men in particular are currently known could be due, among other things, to several international events at which contagion occurred. The RKI emphasizes: “The risk of contracting monkeypox is not limited to sexually active people or men who have sex with men. Anyone who has close physical contact with an infectious person can become infected.” The RKI is currently assuming that the outbreak can be limited.
Corona-infected people pass on the Sars-CoV-2 virus mainly through virus-containing particles that arise when breathing, coughing and speaking, among other things. Aerosols with virus particles can remain in the air for a long time. Since close contact is not necessary for infection, the virus can spread quickly.
According to the RKI, the first symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headache, muscle and back pain and swollen lymph nodes. A few days after the onset of fever, skin lesions develop that eventually crust and fall off. In the typical smallpox lesions, the virus concentration is particularly high. The rash is usually concentrated on the face, palms, and soles of the feet, but can also affect the mouth and genitals. Serious courses and deaths are also possible.
With Corona, the most common symptoms are cough, fever, runny nose and loss of smell and taste. “The course of the disease varies greatly in terms of symptoms and severity, from asymptomatic infections to severe pneumonia with lung failure and death,” says the RKI.
medication and vaccination
Even before monkeypox appeared in Europe, there was a vaccine against it. Although Imvanex has so far only been approved for human smallpox in this country, experts also assume that it is effective against monkeypox. Germany has ordered up to 40,000 cans of it. With vaccinations in the area of known infection clusters, the outbreak could probably be significantly limited, says Ralf Bartenschlager from Heidelberg University Hospital. There is also a drug approved in the EU.
There were initially no drugs or vaccines against the new coronavirus that emerged more than two years ago. That initially made containment more difficult. Several vaccines and various drugs are now available in Germany.
Monkeypox is actually a disease of rodents in West and Central Africa. Occasionally they spread to monkeys and also to humans, the latter has been known since 1970 according to the RKI. The fact that the virus is spreading from person to person in Europe is new. The reasons for this are unclear.
The Sars-CoV-2 corona virus was first discovered about two and a half years ago. It is believed that the first people were infected at an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. A widespread theory is that the pathogen originally came from bats.
The monkeypox pathogen is a so-called DNA virus. The genome of these viruses is considered to be quite stable compared to RNA viruses such as the coronavirus. This means: mutations occur less frequently.
The coronavirus, on the other hand, has evolved over the past two years. This made the virus much easier to transmit, and some vaccines were less effective. However, the Omicron variant currently prevalent in Germany usually leads to an easier course of the disease than earlier variants.