Monkeypox outbreak ‘likely triggered by sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium’, WHO warns

A world health leader has said sex, which occurs at two raves in Europe, could be behind the mysterious monkeypox outbreaks.

Monkeypox is not known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be transmitted through direct contact during sex.

Sex at festivals and raves could help spread monkeypox, experts say


Sex at festivals and raves could help spread monkeypox, experts sayPhoto credit: Getty

British health officials said a significant proportion of cases in the UK and Europe involve young men who are gay, bisexual or who have sex with men.

They didn’t have a trip to Africa, where the disease is endemic and typically spread through handling infected monkeys.

Authorities in other countries, notably Portugal and Spain, also said their cases involved men who primarily had sex with other men.

Their infections were discovered while seeking help at sexual health clinics for skin rashes.

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A rash that looks like chickenpox before turning into blisters and then scabs is the main symptom of monkeypox.

It occurs a few days after flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and chills.

Professor David Heymann, who used to head WHO’s emergency department, said the leading theory was “sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves in Spain and Belgium,” the AP reported.

He said it was one hypothesis among many.

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.

And cases in Belgium have been linked to a major fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp.

dr Heymann said it is known that monkeypox can spread through close contact with an infected person’s lesions, “and it appears that sexual contact has now increased this transmission.”

However, he said the virus was unlikely to be widespread and the outbreak may have been due to a single infection.

It’s very possible for someone with a monkeypox rash on their hands or genitals to transmit it to someone else through physical touch.

This helped spark the outbreak around the world in the US and other European countries, Dr. Hey man.

dr Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser to the UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA), urged people – particularly men who have sex with men – to watch out for symptoms.

She said: “As the virus spreads through close contact, we urge everyone to be alert for any unusual rash or lesion and to contact a sexual health service if you have symptoms.

“A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men, so we particularly encourage these men to be aware of the symptoms.”

There are now 56 cases of monkeypox in England and one in Scotland.

The UKHSA said the threat to the public remained low.

“No more Covid”

As monkeypox worries experts, they have reassured it is ‘not another Covid’.

He said it doesn’t spread through the air – although it can be transmitted through sneezing and coughing – and we have vaccines to protect against it.

The UK is stockpiling vaccinations against the virus, which will only be given to those deemed high risk after contact with a case.

The vaccine was developed to combat smallpox, which was declared eradicated in 1980 before being phased out.

But it’s also 85 percent effective against monkeypox because they’re similar viruses in the same family — although the former is milder.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday there were no plans for a “major” vaccination program in the UK.

It comes after a British tourist staying at a popular holiday hotspot in Spain was tested for monkeypox.

The vacationer on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura is one of five new suspected cases that are currently being analyzed, health chiefs in the region said.

Prof. David Heyamann


Prof. David Heyamann

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral infectious disease.

This particular virus is a rare zoonotic disease, meaning it is transmitted from an animal to humans.

It is mainly found in remote parts of Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

In Africa, human infections have been documented through handling infected monkeys, Gambian giant rats, and squirrels.

It spreads between people only through close contact.

Human-to-human transmission can occur through close contact with the skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by the patient.

Monkeypox has a mortality rate of between one and ten percent, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.

The first symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • headache
  • Muscle cramp
  • back pain
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

A painful rash and open sores can then develop, usually starting on the face.

Symptoms generally last 14 to 21 days, with severe cases depending on the patient’s age, level of virus exposure, medical condition, and the severity of complications. Monkeypox outbreak ‘likely triggered by sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium’, WHO warns

Sarah Y. Kim

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