Monkeypox in Europe:Not permanently in animals

According to experts, the monkeypox virus can hardly establish itself permanently in Europe. The right animal host is missing.


The essentials in brief

  • The monkeypox virus jumps from animals to humans.
  • In Europe, there is probably no suitable host for the virus.
  • So a permanent occurrence here is unlikely.

According to the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), a permanent occurrence of monkeypox in animals is very unlikely in Europe.

“It is questionable whether there are any animal species in Europe that could be considered suitable reservoir hosts,” writes the federal research institute responsible for animal health.

Nevertheless, the further development must be observed.

The EU health agency ECDC had warned that monkeypox could become endemic if the pathogen spread from humans to animals and spread in an animal population.

The danger would be that viruses could spread to humans again and again.

At the beginning of May, a case of monkeypox was detected in a person in Great Britain.

Since then, more and more countries in which the virus has not actually occurred until now have been reporting evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Transmission requires close physical contact

According to the RKI, monkeypox is transmitted from person to person through close physical contact.

“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 fact that cases among gay men in particular are currently known could be related, among other things, to several international events at which infections occurred.

According to the manufacturer of the monkeypox vaccine Imvanex, the current outbreak is not expected to result in a shortage of the vaccine.

“We believe that we can meet global demand without further investments in our production facilities,” said a spokesman for Bavarian Nordic, Rolf Sass Sørensen, on Wednesday in an interview with the German Press Agency.

EU approval in planning

The company has the only approved monkeypox vaccine in the world. It is currently possible to produce 30 million cans a year, said Sørensen. 

However, approval for monkeypox is limited to the United States and Canada. 

Approval in the EU is being planned, said Sørensen. 

In Great Britain, for example, the vaccine is also used “off-label”, i.e. without the appropriate approval.

The African Contagious Diseases Agency (CDC) warned against vaccine hoarding in western countries.

Ahmed Ogwell, deputy director of the CDC, appealed in Addis Ababa on Thursday for lessons to be learned from the early days of the corona pandemic.

“We hope that vaccine will be available primarily where the risk is highest – not where you can pay a lot for it.”

Monkeypox infections in humans have so far been known primarily from regions in West and Central Africa.

According to the President of the Society for Virology, the announced up to 40,000 doses of a smallpox vaccine for possible use in Germany could be tight.

“Nevertheless, this is a good start, especially for vaccinations in the area of ​​​​known infection clusters, which will probably clearly limit the outbreak,” said Ralf Bartenschlager from the Heidelberg University Hospital of the dpa.

Prevent stigma against homosexuals

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned against stigmatizing gay men in connection with monkeypox. 

It must be prevented “that people who are homosexual and have sex with men are stigmatized,” said the SPD politician on Wednesday evening in the ZDF program “Markus Lanz”. 

“It’s just important to say: It can happen to anyone.”

The spokesman for the German Aidshilfe, Holger Wicht, had previously emphasized in a “FAZ” podcast that the impression should not be given that only gays could get the disease or that they were even to blame for the spread.

The word “risk group” – also used by Lauterbach – could be understood to mean that gay men pose a particular risk. 

What is meant, however, is that these men have a particular risk of becoming infected. 

Which said to the news portal t-online: “Mr. Lauterbach is clearly trying not to stigmatize.”

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