More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany, says ministry

The German Health Ministry is predicting that the monkeypox virus could spread further - but says the risk to the population is still low.

The monkeypox virus
The monkeypox virus. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/CDC via AP | Cynthia S. Goldsmith

“Due to the diverse contacts of those currently infected, further cases of the disease are to be expected in Europe and also in Germany,” the ministry wrote in a report for the parliamentary health committee obtained by DPA. 

The rare disease, which is normally localised in West Africa, has recently emerged in Europe, Canada and Australia – though case numbers are still extremely low.  

“It is now an illness that has spread internationally,” the ministry report states. 

As of Sunday, there were four confirmed cases of infection and illness in Germany – one in Munich and three in Berlin. Health authorities are now attempting to analyse samples from further suspected cases and trace the contacts of confirmed cases.

Over the weekend, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases worldwide, including in 12 countries where the virus isn’t usually present. 

So far, the West African monkeypox variant has been detected in the infections found in Europe, but further genome analyses are still underway. 

None of the cases in Europe are thought to have been severe, and symptoms generally clear up within three weeks. However, to help contain the disease, people who notice any skin lesions – a key symptom of monkeypox – are advised to see their doctor straight away. 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) revealed on Monday that his ministry was in the process formulating guidelines to help contain the spread of the illness.

These guidelines. are likely to be released on Tuesday. 

In the UK and Belgium, people with a confirmed case of monkeypox are being asked to isolate for 21 days.

READ ALSO: Germany reports first monkeypox case

‘Usually mild’

According to health authorities, the virus usually causes only mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain and skin rash. However, more severe courses of the illness are possible. 

Unlike viruses such as Covid-19, which can spread through the air, very close contact with an infected person is required in order for monkeypox to be passed on. 

Experts have noted that many of the individuals who were confirmed to have the virus in Europe said they had recently had sexual contact with a new partner, which raises the likelihood that the recent monkeypox cases were transmitted sexually.

Given the limited ways the disease can spread and the tendency towards a mild course of disease, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is currently classifying the risk to the population as a whole as “low”. 

However, under the Infection Protection Act, doctors and laboratories are still required to track any insistences of the disease and pass information on to the public health authorities. 

Health experts are still investigating whether vaccination for contact persons or risk groups could be advisable. 

The Health Ministry believes that smallpox vaccinations, which were compulsory for children in West Germany until 1975 and in East Germany until 1982, could be effective against the disease.

According to the report, the German government has about 100 million doses of smallpox vaccine in storage.

Of these, two million doses were donated to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and stored for them. 

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The vocab you need for a trip to the dentist in Germany

Going to the dentist can be daunting at the best of times and being unsure of the language can make things ten times worse. We’ve put together a guide of the German words and phrases you need to help take some of the pain away.

The vocab you need for a trip to the dentist in Germany

When you arrive at the dentist, you’ll usually be asked if you’re gesetzlich or privat versichert (if you have state or private health insurance) and asked to present your health insurance card. However, for most procedures, you will still have to pay something extra on top. 

The most common reason for a trip to the dentist (Zahnarzt) is having eine Vorsorgeuntersuchung (check-up) or a cleaning appointment (eine Zahnreinigung or eine Prophylaxe) which most dentists recommend having twice a year.

Most health insurers won’t reimburse the full cost of teeth cleaning – so make sure you check beforehand with your Krankenkasse which costs are covered.

In a cleaning appointment, the dentist will remove plaque (der Zahnbelag) and check the health of your teeth (die Zähne) and gums (das Zahnfleisch). If they tell you that they see Karies (tooth decay) then you may be told to come back for another appointment to get a filling (eine Zahnfüllung or eine Plombe).

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

They will certainly remind you at the end of the appointment to use Zahnseide (dental floss) on a daily basis (täglich) and also recommend that you use Interdentalbürsten (interdental brushes) for cleaning in between the teeth.

In the chair

When you actually get into the hot seat, you will be usually asked to do certain things by your dentist or dental assistant (Zahntechniker) so they can do what they need to do.

The first thing you’ll usually be asked to do is ausspülen bitte – to rinse your mouth with mouthwash (die Mundspülung) usually in a plastic cup in a little sink next to the dental chair. They might ask you to keep the liquid in your mouth for a certain number of seconds until they tell you to ausspucken (spit it out).

A woman undergoes a dental examination. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Markus Scholz

When you’re lying down, you’ll inevitably be told Mund öffnen bitte or aufmachen bitte (open your mouth) and likewise, you might be asked to zumachen (close) your mouth at some point. Other typical instructions in the dentist’s chair are: Mundlocker lassen (relax your mouth), Kopf zu mir drehen (turn your head towards me) and Kinn nach oben (chin upwards).

Types of dental issues

There are numerous complaints that could compel you to pay a visit to the dentist, but one of the most common is having a filling (eine Zahnfüllung) or having a crown (eine Zahnkrone).Your health insurance will cover the cost of the most basic kind of material for filling up a cavity, but you will be presented with a price list (or if you aren’t – ask) for the different types of materials for crowns or fillings.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How dental care works in Germany

Another common complaint is having to have a tooth removed (eine Zahnextraction) – a particularly common procedure for a wisdom tooth (der Weisheitszahn). A more serious extraction procedure is a root canal treatment (eine Wuzelkanalbehandlung).

If you have this kind of procedure, you will normally be offered a local anaesthetic (örtliche Betäubung or Lokalanästhesie) and you may also need an X-Ray (ein Röntgen).

More useful phrases and vocabulary

Braces – (die) Zahnspangen

Sensitive teeth – empfindliche

ZähneTooth pain – (der) Zahnschmerz

Dentures – (die) ProtheseI have toothache when I chew/drink – Ich habe Zahnschmerzen beim kauen/trinken

I have light/strong pain on this tooth – Ich habe leichte/starke Schmerzen an diesem Zahn

My gums are inflamed – Ich habe eine Entzündung am Zahnfleisch

I am nervous about the treatment – Ich habe Angst vor der Behandlung