The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Monday, May 23, that the monkeypox outbreak traced its roots to homosexual men who attended rave events in Europe. At least 200 individuals had been affected by the disease.
Dr. Rosamund Lewis, who runs the WHO’s smallpox research, said: “We’ve seen a few cases in Europe over the last five years, just in travelers, but this is the first time we’re seeing cases across many countries at the same time in people who have not traveled to the endemic regions in Africa.”
The U.S. has confirmed at least two cases in New York City and in Massachusetts, with a third case being investigated by officials in Florida.
The monkeypox virus itself is not a sexually transmitted infection, but the WHO said the recent surge in cases is linked to men having sexual contacts with other men. The organization did note that anyone can contract the disease.
Andy Seale, who advises WHO on HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases, said that many other diseases can be spread through sexual contact, such as cough and colds, but it does not mean that they are in the category of sexually transmitted diseases. Monkeypox, like the flu, is not considered an STD.
While most of the known cases in Europe have been among men who have sexual contact with other men, anyone can be infected through close contact with an infected person, their clothing or even their bedsheets. Scientists say it will be difficult to figure out if the spread is being driven by sex or merely close contact.
Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, said: “By nature, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, whatever a person’s sexual orientation and irrespective of the mode of transmission.”
Monkeypox spread at rave events in Europe
Dr. David Heymann, who chaired a meeting of the WHO’s advisory group on infectious diseases, said that the leading theory to explain the spread of monkeypox was sexual transmission at events held in Spain and Belgium. The virus has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.
“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” he said. (Related: Monkeypox spreads at massive LGBT filth festival in Europe)
“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions … and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close physical contact,” Heymann went on, adding that these international events seeded the outbreak around the world, and into the U.S. and other European countries.
Andrea Ammon, the director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said that the likelihood of further spread of the virus through close contacts, such as sexual activities among persons with multiple sex partners, is considered high.
This marks a significant departure from the typical spread pattern of the disease in Central and Western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals such as rodents and primates.
Belgian officials said they would implement a 21-day quarantine for individuals who contracted monkeypox. Germany already has four confirmed cases from the events that took place in Spain’s Canary Islands and in Berlin, according to a government report.
Heymann pointed out that this is not a similar disease to Wuhan coronavirus. It can be slowed down as it does not spread in the air and there are already vaccines that protect against it. (Related: New engineered pandemic: US buys millions of vaccines as monkeypox outbreak hits Europe and North America.)
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, body aches and rashes. Although it is related to the smallpox virus, it is typically less severe and is notably distinguished from smallpox by the appearance of swollen lymph nodes during its symptomatic phase. Following that, a swollen rash spreads to the inside of the mouth, hands and feet.
Visit Outbreak.news for more updates about the spread monkeypox.
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