ECDC publishes contact tracing guidance for the current monkeypox outbreak

News story

Cases of monkeypox have been continuously reported across the European region since the initial reports on 16 May. Due to this ongoing transmission, and following guidance published for event organisers and people at risk, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has today published Considerations for contact tracing during the monkeypox outbreak in Europe, 2022.

Epidemiological experience and mathematical modelling have repeatedly shown case identification and contact tracing as important interventions in this current outbreak besides risk communication and community engagement. In this regard, the technical report provides advice and considerations to public health authorities in EU/EEA countries that are conducting contact tracing.

Though monkeypox is not a traditional sexually transmitted infection (STI), the virus takes the opportunities for close-contact transmission wherever they arise. The priority for public health authorities in the EU/EEA countries is the early identification and isolation of cases and prompt tracing of their contacts to break the chains of transmission.

The collaboration between public health and sexual health professionals, who are already experienced and have established procedures for partner notification for STIs, is critical to ensure that as many close contacts as possible are identified and informed about their exposure. Close collaboration with civil society and community-based organisations is also recommended to build trust in contact tracing strategies and to ensure these strategies and accompanying risk communication is adapted to the affected groups, while minimising stigmatization as this outbreak is currently circulating largely among men who have sex with men (MSM) with multiple partners.

On 2 June 2022 ECDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly published Interim advice on Risk Communication and Community Engagement during the monkeypox outbreak in Europe, 2022 intended to provide advice to health authorities on the communication of risks and engagement of groups most affected by the outbreak. The joint report highlighted the need to build trust between authorities and at-risk groups ensuring timely and consistent health information and advice to broader populations while using more direct channels to and engagement with those at increased risk through two-way communication.

With COVID-19 restrictions ending, the number of large gatherings has increased, as has international travel, and in response ECDC and WHO jointly published Interim advice for public health authorities on summer events during the monkeypox outbreak in Europe, 2022. Although the focus of the report is monkeypox, much of the advice addresses good public health practices in general which may help prevent the transmission of a number of infectious diseases. The guidance includes sections which can be used to formulate advice to business and venue owners and event organisers, as well as participants themselves before, during and after events.

In order to raise awareness directly with the group that has been most affected by the current outbreak —gay and bisexual men and other MSM— ECDC partnered with community organisations and public health experts from The Love Tank, Prepster, and MPact­ to produce Navigating monkeypox: considerations for gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men. This document explains what precautions people should take and provides useful links with additional information.

ECDC provides situation updates every Wednesday and continues to monitor the situation closely. The risk assessment published on 23 May 2022 remains valid and will be updated as new data and information become available.

Read the report

Publication

Considerations for contact tracing during the monkeypox outbreak in Europe, 2022

Guidance -

In this report, we offer considerations for the prioritisation of efforts to identify and manage close contacts, as well as indicators for public health authorities in the EU/EEA that can be used for monitoring the efficacy of their contact tracing activities.