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24th May 2022

Monkeypox outbreak ‘was likely sparked by sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium’, WHO adviser says

Charlie Herbert

Monkeypox outbreak may have started at raves in Spain and belgium

This is the ‘leading theory’ behind the monkeypox outbreak

A top expert has said the current outbreak of monkeypox is likely to be able to be traced back to sexual activity at two raves in Europe.

Dr David Heymann, a senior adviser to the World Health Organisation, said the outbreak is best described as a “random event,” and that the leading theory to explain it is sexual transmission at two erotic raves in Spain and Belgium.

Dr Heymann told the Associated Press: “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.”

The news comes as a British tourist in the Canary Islands is being tested for the virus.

The tourist’s name and age are currently unknown, but the Metro reports that he is thought to be the first British tourist to be tested for the virus abroad.

The current number of confirmed cases in England is 56.

Whilst monkeypox is not exclusively spread via sexual contact, it spreads through close physical contact.

People with several sexual partners have been urged to be vigilant, as have gay and bisexual men, with a notable proportion of the cases in Europe detected in these communities.

But experts have warned against “stigma and discrimination” surrounding the condition.

During a WHO Q&A, Andy Seale, an adviser with an HIV, hepatitis and STI programme, said: “There are ways that we can work with communities to learn from really decades of experience around tackling stigma and discrimination with HIV. We want to apply that lesson, those lessons learned, to this experience.”

Monkeypox is usually found in parts of central and west Africa and is rarely seen outside the region.

But there are now around 200 confirmed and suspected cases across at least a dozen countries, World Health Organization officials said Monday.

The chief of the WHO’s smallpox research team 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.”

Symptoms include fever, a headache, chills, exhaustion, aches and swollen lymph nodes. Most notably, a rash spreads from the face across the body for around five days.

Direct contact with scabs can also spread the virus, as can inhaling droplets when a person with rash coughs or sneezes.

On Monday, the UKHSA advised that anyone who has had direct or household contact with a confirmed case of monkeypox should isolate for 21 days.

Contacts are advised to provide their details for contact tracing, should not travel and should avoid contact with immunosuppressed people, pregnant women, and children under 12.

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