Three-week quarantine advised for close contacts of monkeypox patients

The monkeypox virus. Photo:
The monkeypox virus. Photo:

People who have been in close contact with a patient who is infected with monkeypox should go into quarantine for three weeks.

The public health agency RIVM said the advice was a precautionary measure based on the incubation period for the disease of between five and 21 days.

It applies to anyone who lives in a household where monkeypox has been diagnosed or has had sex or other close contact with an infected person. However, the RIVM withdrew earlier advice for people to go into quarantine if they had spent more than 15 minutes within 1.5 metres of someone with monkeypox.

Health minister Ernst Kuipers declared the disease a class A illness on Friday, which means all confirmed or suspected cases must be notified to the public health authorities. Kuipers said more cases were likely in the coming weeks but he did not expect the virus to become a public health emergency.

So far two infections have been confirmed in the Netherlands. Monkeypox usually causes a mild illness, with symptoms including fever, headaches, swelling, back pain and muscle aches, as well as a distinctive rash. Patients generally recover within two weeks, but the disease can be fatal.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the disease could spread around Europe this summer at large public gatherings, parties and festivals.

Virologist Marion Koopmans said the concern was mainly caused by the fact that not all cases could be traced to people who had recently travelled to Africa, as has happened in previous outbreaks.

‘It seems to be spreading fairly easily, which is a reason to get on top of it,’ she told talk show Op1. ‘What we’ve seen up until now with monkeypox is it’s imported, you get one or two contact cases and that’s it.

‘This is an unusual distribution and more cases are certainly going to come to light, because the people who are known to be infected don’t have a clear connection to each other. So something’s missing and we need to work out what that is.’

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