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Monkeypox: large increase in the number of infections in Britain – knowledge

Electron micrograph of monkeypox virus, colored. Photo: Andrea Männel / Andrea Schnartendorff / RKI / dpa


In the UK, the number of monkeypox cases has increased dramatically in recent days. Men in particular are affected by the virus.

The UK remains a hot spot for the spread of monkeypox. About five weeks after the first cases appeared in the UK, the UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) reports a drastic increase in the number of cases.

In the last three days, 104 new cases of infectious diseases have been added, with a 28% increase since Friday (10 June). 470 cases of viral disease have been recorded so far in Great Britain.

First cases of monkeypox in the UK on 7 May

The vast majority of cases have been found in homosexual or bisexual men who have frequent intercourse. The first current case of monkeypox was reported in the UK on 7 May.

The first infection is said to be due to an infection in Nigeria. Human cases of monkeypox have increased in Nigeria since 2017 and cases are linked to travel there, mainly to the UK.

At least 28 countries affected so far

As of June 8, 1,285 laboratory-confirmed cases and one probable case had been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from at least 28 countries in four WHO regions.



Most of the cases come from Europe, particularly Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, as well as the United States. In the meantime, the first infections in Latin America have also become known.

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According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a total of 189 cases of monkeypox in Germany from eleven federal states (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate , Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein) – 120 cases in Berlin alone.

Patients are exclusively men. Both the RKI and the WHO assume that the number of cases will continue to increase around the world and in Germany.

Smallpox virus infection

Monkeypox is a viral disease. Viruses belong to a subfamily of poxviruses. Similar to these, blisters often form on the body during the course of an infection. The incubation period is usually two weeks.

Monkeypox is usually transmitted through the air. In some of the recently emerged cases, however, experts have speculated that the infection was caused by liquids. Most of the cases reported so far involve men who have had sexual contact with other men.

So far, monkeypox is mainly known in some regions of Africa. According to the RKI, men who have sex with men should “seek medical attention immediately” if they have any unusual skin changes. Human cases of monkeypox have increased in Nigeria since 2017 and travel-related cases mainly in the UK.

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Rather bland courses so far

According to the British health authority UKHSA, viral disease usually causes only mild symptoms, but it can also have a severe course. According to this, only those who are symptomatic and have close contact are contagious.

According to UKHSA, early signs of the disease include: fever, headache, back and muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash may develop, which often spreads to other parts of the body, starting with the face. The rash looks different depending on the stage and can resemble chickenpox and syphilis.

Smallpox vaccination protects to a great extent

According to the WHO, the smallpox vaccination that was common in the past is 85% effective against a monkeypox infection. He reported this Saturday in Geneva, citing studies. Routine smallpox vaccination was stopped after smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980.

Deaths from monkeypox can mainly occur in young children and people with compromised immune systems, such as those caused by HIV infection, the WHO reported.

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Neither therapy nor vaccination

So far there is no specific therapy and no vaccination against monkeypox. Smallpox has been considered eradicated worldwide since 1980 following a major vaccination campaign. According to the RKI, however, much of the world’s population no longer has vaccine protection.

Experts suspect that the pathogen of monkeypox circulates in rodents and that monkeys are considered false hosts. “Infections can be transmitted through contact with secretions from infected animals,” says an RKI report. “Sexual transmission of smallpox viruses is also possible.”

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