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When is someone contagious?

In recent weeks, the monkeypox virus has been detected in humans in various places in Europe. In the Netherlands there are so far twelve people with monkeypox. The virus does not seem very contagious, but much is still unclear about its spread. We saw a lot of questions about the virus on our platform. These are our answers to the most frequently asked questions.

The virus is transmitted through intimate contact, but it is not an STI?

“No, monkeypox is not an STI. The virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Virus particles that are in the vesicles, for example, can then come into contact with the mucous membranes or unnoticed small cracks in your skin. Because you have a lot of skin-to-skin contact during sex, the virus can spread more easily.”


With today’s knowledge, it does not seem that you spread the virus very easily, as with corona.

When is someone contagious? Answers to your questions about monkeypox

How is it possible that we know so little about the virus and that there is a vaccine?

“We have been familiar with this virus for a long time, but we see with the current outbreak of monkeypox that the virus behaves differently,” according to the RIVM. “That’s why it’s important that we do more research and take measures to prevent spread.”

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“The monkeypox virus is very similar to the virus that causes smallpox. That skin disease is virtually non-existent in the world, because it was successfully vaccinated against.


Smallpox vaccination was part of the National Vaccination Programme until the seventies. After the disappearance of smallpox, vaccination against it was discontinued. The smallpox vaccine can also be used for monkeypox in the first days after a possible infection. It can also be used preventively by people with a greater risk of infection.”

Can anyone who wants to just get a vaccine against smallpox? Or are there certain conditions attached to this?

“No, you can’t apply for smallpox vaccination yourself. Only people who have a high chance of contracting the disease will be offered the vaccination.”

Why isn’t the government calling on everyone to get the smallpox vaccine?


“That is not the case at the moment. It is important to first learn more about the virus and why it behaves differently.”

Why is this disease on the so-called A-list (where doctors are obliged to report it to the GGD if they find the disease)? And when is a virus even classified as A-type?

“The designation of monkeypox as an A disease is for the time being a temporary measure. In the coming weeks, it will be closely examined whether that measure should remain. We have known monkeypox for decades, but the current international outbreak is atypical.”

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“Because much is still unknown about this current outbreak, it is essential to detect (suspected) new cases as early as possible, to be able to isolate suspected cases and to take measures with contacts, such as monitoring and quarantine.


In this way, further spread can be prevented. Classifying monkeypox as an A disease is therefore in the interest of public health.”

The virus has been around for many years, but not in Europe. Or maybe it was, but it wasn’t recognized? How does it actually differ from shingles? Will we soon have to quarantine with that?

“It is not the first time that the virus has shown itself in Europe. In recent years, this has happened occasionally in other European countries, but not before in the Netherlands. All those times, the contamination could be traced back to a visit to West Africa.”

According to the RIVM, a family member was occasionally infected, but that did not lead to a further spread of the virus. “Shingles is a very different disease than monkeypox.”


When is someone contagious? Answers to your questions about monkeypox

When is someone contagious?

“Someone is contagious as soon as visible symptoms such as blisters and scabs can be seen. The blisters can also occur in less visible places, such as in the mouth.”

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“Some people have flu-like symptoms before the blisters appear. We currently also consider people with these symptoms to be contagious.”

The monkeypox virus is not a new virus and we always traveled. So how is it possible that it suddenly appears in countries like the Netherlands and it seems to spread a lot faster?


“We don’t know yet,” according to rivm. Incidentally, a striking number of infected people recently visited a fetish festival in Belgium, Darkland. Possibly that was a source of fire. The number of people tested positive in the Netherlands now stands at twelve. Worldwide (in countries where the virus has not already circulated) there are now more than a hundred cases, most of them in Europe.

How high is the death rate?

“That’s hard to say at the moment. There are figures on death rates in West Africa, but these figures are difficult to compare with the situation in Europe.”

Does it scar you?


“You can get scars in the places where the blisters were.”

Can you only get it once and are you immune afterwards?

“Once you’ve had the monkeypox or have been vaccinated against it, you usually can’t get the disease again. However, it is possible that blisters appear again due to skin-to-skin contact. However, they will then spread less quickly.”

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How long can it take for someone to develop symptoms?


“After contact with a monkeypox patient, it can take 5 to 21 days for someone to develop symptoms. The GGD asks people who have had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus to quarantine for up to three weeks. That’s really a precautionary measure.”

When is someone contagious? Answers to your questions about monkeypox




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