In Frankfurt, a 39-year-old man was infected with monkeypox.

It is still unclear where and how he got infected, said the head of the Frankfurt health department, Peter Tinnemann, on Wednesday.

Monica Ganster

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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The case was discovered because the patient presented with flu symptoms and an unclear skin rash to a resident doctor, who had the infection clarified at the Institute for Medical Virology at the University Hospital in Frankfurt.

There, the laboratory of virologist Sandra Ciesek was able to prove the rare virus beyond any doubt.

Hesse's Health Minister Kai Klose (Die Grünen) emphasized at a press conference on Wednesday that the general risk of infection with this disease is "rather than low".

Nevertheless, it is important to educate the population at this point in time in order to prevent fears from arising.

Body aches, fever, chills

The health department is in contact with the 39-year-old man.

He feels "like you feel with a viral infection like this: He has body aches, fever, chills," Tinnemann lists the common symptoms.

In addition, there would be skin changes, which according to the Robert Koch Institute can develop from a spot to a pustule, ultimately crusting and falling off.

The rash is usually concentrated on the face, palms and soles of the feet.

The patient now has to isolate himself for 21 days, said Tinnemann.

This is also the maximum time between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms.

Only the symptoms, which usually subside on their own, are treated.

There is evidence that smallpox vaccination leads to an easier course of the disease.

To avoid misunderstandings, Ciesek specified: "It doesn't mean a chickenpox vaccination, it's a herpes virus and something else again."

The health department is now following the contacts of the 39-year-old man in order to be able to quickly contain the spread of monkeypox.

He had not attended any events and had not traveled recently, it said.

In this respect, the riddle of the infection of the Frankfurt patient still has to be solved.

The virus, which has so far been detected in more than ten countries, has little in common with the corona virus: it makes you less ill and is far less contagious, explained Ciesek.

In addition, it is only transmitted through direct, prolonged skin contact, not through the air like Sars-Cov2.

"Corona is an RNA virus, monkeypox a DNA virus," says Ciesek, describing another difference.

RNA viruses are "more willing to mutate", they change more frequently and in more diverse ways.

In this respect, it is good news that monkeypox is a DNA virus.

The first sequencings are already available, i.e. detailed examinations of the virus, which indicate slight deviations from a strain from 2018.

However, there are also mutations that could result in altered transmission, for example. "But all of that still needs to be investigated."

The virologist said that the transition of a virus from animals to humans will be dealt with even more frequently in the coming decades.

Man is responsible for this - globalization, climate change and the destruction of wildlife habitats contribute to this, according to Ciesek.

And: the more people become infected, the greater the likelihood that a virus can also change.

Rodents are said to play an important role in transmission to humans.

Ciesek gave an example from the United States: In 2003, a total of 70 people there became infected with monkeypox after the virus spread to humans from hamster rats imported from Africa via prairie dogs with which they had been kept.

An extremely rare combination.

"No one needs to be afraid of their hamster at home now," emphasizes Ciesek.

So far, only 228 cases are known in the world, plus 82 suspected cases, according to Ciesek.

The skin changes in particular could initially be mistaken for shingles.

Currently, only two laboratories in Hesse, in Frankfurt and Marburg, can prove the monkeypox virus beyond any doubt.

The Robert Koch Institute provides up-to-date information at

rki.de/affenpocken

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