Monkeypox holiday alert as virus spreads via popular tourist spots

BRITS have been warned to be “vigilant” for monkeypox as they hit popular tourist spots for holidays this year.

The disease has suddenly started spreading to unlikely places around the world, including Europe.

Authorities in Spain are investigating the link between monkeypox cases and the recent Pride march. Shown is the holiday destination of Las Palmas

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Authorities in Spain are investigating the link between monkeypox cases and the recent Pride march. Shown is the holiday destination of Las PalmasCredit: Alamy

Festivals attended by Europeans on holiday have been linked to outbreaks across the region, including Spain, Italy and Germany.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the explosion of cases was “a most unusual occurrence”.

The agency’s European director, Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, warned that as summer begins, mass gatherings, festivals and parties across the continent could fuel the spread of monkeypox.

dr Kluge said: “I am concerned that transmission may be accelerating as the cases currently being detected are below those engaging in sexual activity and the symptoms are unknown to many.”

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When asked about the risk for Brits going to summer festivals or on holiday, senior medical adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins, people need to be ‘alert’ for the virus.

dr Hopkins, from the UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA), told the BBC: “The risk to the general population [from monkeypox] remains extremely low.

“People need to pay attention to this, and we really want clinicians to pay attention to this.”

So far there have only been eight cases of monkeypox in the UK, all linked to travel from West Africa.

But in this outbreak, not all 20 of those infected have had contact with a person who has traveled to the country.

It suggests there is already a community broadcast in the UK.

Many more are expected to be diagnosed in the coming weeks, experts say, and an update on confirmed cases is expected on Monday.

Many well-known patients are gay men who were tested after going to STI clinics, world leaders have said.

Health chiefs warned gay and bisexual men to be on the lookout for new unexplained rashes.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during sex.

It causes flu-like symptoms before a blistering rash spreads over the body.

holiday hell

The comments of Dr. Hopkins came as some of Europe’s top holiday destinations were reporting outbreaks of the virus.

There are around 100 cases across Europe and North America, the WHO said on Monday.

A senior WHO adviser said the “accidental” outbreak of monkeypox could be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass gatherings in Europe.

A gay pride festival in Gran Canaria, attended by 80,000 people, has been linked to a number of cases in Madrid, Tenerife and Italy.

In Spain, which has the most monkeypox cases in Europe, infections in the Malasaña neighborhood of Madrid have been traced to a sauna – Sauna Paraíso – that has since closed.

A number of other communities followed, reporting more cases, including Andalusia, Galicia, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Extremadura.

A German government report to lawmakers, seen by AP, says the risk of contracting monkeypox “appears to reside primarily in male-to-male sexual contact.”

The four confirmed cases in Germany have been linked to exposure at party events, including in Gran Canaria and Berlin, it said.

Meanwhile, the three confirmed cases of monkeypox in Belgium have been linked to a large-scale fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp, it was revealed on Friday.

dr David Heymann, who used to head WHO’s emergency department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease is sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves in Spain and Belgium.

dr Heymann told AP it’s known that monkeypox can spread through close contact with an infected person’s lesions.

It appears that sexual contact has now increased this transmission, said Dr. Hey man.

Monkeypox typically infects humans in central and western Africa when it spreads to humans from wild animals such as rodents and primates.

The full list of European countries with reported cases of monkeypox is:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • France
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • The Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • United Kingdom

Other affected countries are Australia, Israel, Argentina, Canada and the USA.

According to the WHO, the outbreaks are atypical because they occur in countries where the virus does not circulate regularly.

Scientists are trying to understand the origin of the cases and whether anything has changed about the virus.

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But until now, the WHO has no evidence that the virus has mutated.

The WHO said confirmed cases so far are the less severe West African group of monkeypox viruses.

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5402900/monkeypox-holiday-warning-spreads-popular-tourist-spots/ Monkeypox holiday alert as virus spreads via popular tourist spots

Sarah Y. Kim

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