Current situation – Monkey pox is a sexually transmitted – but not only – knowledge


Cases of monkeypox are increasing outside Africa, currently mostly among gays. The Swiss are also affected.

Fever, swollen lymph nodes, blisters resembling chickenpox – or early stages of syphilis. Dominique Braun, an infectiologist at the University Hospital in Zurich, has already treated various patients infected with the monkeypox virus during his consultation hours. “These skin lesions can be anywhere on the body,” he says, “currently they are usually found in the genital area.” With a blister swab, the infection can be diagnosed within hours.

Slight increase in Switzerland

Monkey pox has infected more than 3,000 people outside Africa. According to the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH, 46 cases have been confirmed in Switzerland.

WHO meeting – “health emergency”?

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Since the beginning of May, cases of so-called monkeypox have occurred in many Western countries. The virus is common only in Central and West Africa, but is now spreading to other countries.

The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee is meeting today, Thursday, to ask whether the current spread of monkeypox in non-endemic countries is a “public health emergency of international concern.”

The WHO also wants to rename the virus. The current designation is discriminatory and does not comply with WHO guidelines. Accordingly, neither animals nor geographical names may carry pathogens.

The focus of health authorities is the so-called “MSM community” – men who have sex with men. The recent outbreak of monkeypox affects only this group, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The trend is rising – also in Switzerland.

“Yes, we have seen a slight increase in recent days,” said Benjamin Hampel, infectiologist and medical director of Checkpoint Zurich. This is the largest sexual health contact point for gay and trans people in Switzerland.

“The cases we’ve seen here so far have been relatively mild, meaning no one has had to be hospitalized and no one has been disfigured by severe skin rashes.”

But he also heard about difficult courses, says Benjamin Hampel. And from a social point of view, the disease is not completely harmless. Patients must be isolated for two to three weeks or longer. That means, “Many sufferers are afraid of coming out.” It could be problematic if, for example, a conservative employer heard that the monkeypox virus mainly affected gays.

It can also be transmitted by close physical contact

However, the question is whether the infection will remain limited to this group: “The virus does not maintain sexual orientation,” says Dominique Braun of the University Hospital Zurich, “which means that it is quite possible that the virus will spread to other groups. if appropriate exposure has occurred. “

Checkpoint manager Benjamin Hampel adds: “Smallpox is transmitted not only sexually but also by close physical contact.” The virus has ideal conditions for further spread at Pride festivals, concerts and other summer festivities. It’s unfortunate, according to Hampel, “because otherwise the smallpox virus is very difficult to transmit.”

Vaccination recommendations should come

The good news is that, unlike Corona, you can infect other people with chickenpox only if you have symptoms yourself. There is also a vaccine that provides 85% protection against infection. In other countries, such as Germany, the vaccine is already recommended by the MSM community.

In Switzerland, the EKIF Federal Vaccination Commission should soon follow the vaccination recommendation. This is part of the strategy of action that FOPH is currently developing.

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