ECDC publishes contact tracing guidance for the current monkeypox outbreak

05 July 2022

Article: 56/2606

On 28 July 2022, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published a technical report, offering contact tracing guidance to public health authorities in EU and EEA countries which can be utilised during the 2022 monkeypox outbreak. 

The ECDC note that although 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 EU and 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, the ECDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly published interim guidance, aimed at providing 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 the ECDC and the WHO jointly published interim advice for public health authorities on summer events during the monkeypox outbreak. 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 several 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, that is gay and bisexual men and other MSM, the ECDC partnered with community organisations and public health experts from The Love Tank, Prepster, and MPact, to produce guidance, explaining what precautions people should take and providing useful links with additional information. 

Source: ECDC, 28 July 2022