Monkeypox: 81 cases now recorded in Denmark

A total of 82 cases of monkeypox have so far been recorded in Denmark, included a number not traceable to travel abroad.

Monkeypox: 81 cases now recorded in Denmark
SSI director Henrik Ullum said the Danish public can remain calm over monkeypox despite the country's total number of cases increasing to 81. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Cases of monkeypox recently detected in Denmark are not all related to travel abroad, as has previously been the case, the director of the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI), Henrik Ullum, told broadcaster DR on Friday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week declared the monkeypox outbreak, which has affected nearly 16,000 people in 72 countries, to be a global health emergency — the highest alarm it can sound.

A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

The virus is spreading in Denmark and being monitored by Danish health authorities, SSI said.

“More and more cases are not travel related but due to infection internally in Denmark,” Ullum said to DR.

“When monkeypox first came to Denmark at the end of May, we saw very few cases each week and they were all related to travel,” he said.

Of the 81 total cases detected, 18 were registered in the last week, a “clear increase” according to Ullum.

“We must therefore, like the WHO, say that containment is not going very well,” he said.

The SSI director however said the general public need not be excessively concerned about the disease, which is far less infectious than Covid-19.

“As a population, we must keep calm, because the disease is in most cases mild and can be treated at home,” he said.

The monkeypox virus is in the same family of viruses as chickenpox but is not highly contagious.

A relatively high proportion of the detected cases have been among men who have sex with men, but this group is not at higher risk from the disease than other persons who have close physical contact to a person who is infected with monkeypox and is displaying symptoms, according to the Danish Health Authority.

Ullum nevertheless asked that people within this group be “aware that you can become infected and expose others to infection”.

Danish company Bavarian Nordic, the lone laboratory manufacturing a licensed vaccine against monkeypox, said in July that an “undisclosed European country” had ordered 1.5 million doses.

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Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

A Danish LGBT+ rights group says that a decision by the country’s health authority to offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men, and have multiple sexual partners, is ‘what we have asked for’.

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

Denmark will now offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men and have multiple sexual partners, the Danish Health Authority said on Tuesday.

Previously, the shots were only given to people who had been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Anyone can get monkeypox from close contact, not just men who have sex with men. However, high numbers of cases have been recorded in that group, in Denmark as well as internationally.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox: Denmark to offer vaccination to at-risk group

The head of secretariat with association LGBT+ Denmark, Susanne Branner Jespersen, told broadcaster DR the organisation was “pleased” that health authorities have broadened the segment to which vaccinations are offered.

“This is what we have asked for, so we can only be satisfied that they are now coming out with a vaccination strategy which fits with the needs we are seeing,” Jespersen said.

“Being vaccinated does not set aside the general guidelines which have come out, but it will give a higher degree of security,” she said.

The organisation last week called for the Danish Health Authority to offer the monkeypox vaccine to men who have sex with men.

That request has now been met. The vaccine is given as two injections at a 28-day interval.

The health authority is in dialogue with regional health providers and hospitals regarding how the vaccination effort will be coordinated and expects to begin vaccinations by the end of this week, new wire Ritzau reported.

The vice director of the Danish Health Authority, Helene Probst, DR on Tuesday that people in risk groups show be “extra aware” of symptoms, with case numbers currently increasing.

“Vaccination is one part of a strategy with several elements, but it is also important to be aware of symptoms,” Probst told DR.

Typical symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to those most experience with influenza.

Additional symptoms can include a rash in the groin area, itching and discomfort, and blisters in the mouth or on hands. Should these symptoms present, the sufferer should contact their doctor, be tested for monkeypox and avoid close contact with others.

The disease can be passed on to others once symptoms are present.

Latest data from the State Serum Institute (SSI), the national infectious disease agency, show that 126 people in Denmark have contracted monkeypox since the first case was detected in the country in late May.