With number of cases of monkeypox rising, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is looking at the possibility of buying a vaccine against the disease, reported RTS.
With at least three cases the number of confirmed infections in Switzerland is low. The first infection in Bern was followed by cases in Geneva and Zurich. The first two cases were connected with travel abroad.
According to the FOPH, the monkeypox virus is moderately transmissible from animals (mainly rodents) to humans and from person to person. Transmission typically occurs through close contact with infected people or animals. This usually happens through direct contact with the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, genitals, etc.). Sexual contact with an infected person increases the likelihood of human-to-human transmission. Contact with infected secretions or blood, large respiratory droplets and bites from infected animals can also lead to transmission. In addition, contact with contaminated objects, such as clothes, bed linen or hygiene articles can lead to infection.
Symptoms include severely swollen lymph nodes, fever (38.5°C or higher), headache, muscle and back pain, shivering and exhaustion. Typically, but not always, after a few days a rash develops with vesicles, then pustules and finally crusts. The rash often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body, including the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and the genitals. Typically, the incubation time is 5 to 16 days.
People with the disease are contagious from the onset of symptoms until the end of the rash when the last skin crusts have fallen off. This can take about three weeks.
Given the presence of the disease in Switzerland, the FOPH is looking at vaccine options, according to RTS. While there is no specific vaccine for monkeypox a number of vaccines for other diseases are effective. First and second generation vaccines against smallpox are effective against monkeypox, according to Linda Nartey at FOPH. These vaccines were used in Switzerland until 1972. People vaccinated with these vaccines will probably have a certain degree of immunity, said Nartey, however how good this immunity is is unknown.
A third generation smallpox vaccine, which also offers protection against monkeypox and is authorised in the EU, is currently not authorised or available in Switzerland.
According to Nartey, there is nothing to suggest we are faced with a new pandemic. Monkeypox is less transmissible than the coronavirus.
More information about the disease can be viewed on the FOPH website.