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.