Monkeypox likely spread through sex at 2 raves in Europe, expert suggests – National

A top advisor for World Health Organization describe an unprecedented outbreak of a rare disease monkey pox in developed countries is “a random event” that can be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr David Heymann, who previously headed the WHO’s emergency department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission. between gay and bisexual men at two events in Spain and Belgium.

Monkeypox did not previously cause widespread outbreaks outside of Africa, where it was endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can be spread by close contact with an infected person’s wound, and it seems that sex amplifies that transmission,” said Heymann.

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That marks a significant departure from the typical spread of the disease in Central and West Africa, where humans are mainly infected by animals such as rodents and wild primates. Wild and epidemic diseases have not yet spilled over the border.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in dozens of countries including the UK, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the US, Australia and Canada.

Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities were investigating possible links between the recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which attracted about 80,000 people, and the incident at a sauna in Madrid.

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Heymann chaired an emergency meeting of the WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing outbreak and said there was no evidence that monkeypox could have passed. transforms into a more infectious form.

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Monkeypox usually causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread by close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bed sheets, but sexual transmission has not been documented.

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Most people recover within a few weeks without being hospitalized. A vaccine for smallpox, a related disease, is also effective in preventing smallpox in monkeys, and several antiviral drugs are under development.

In recent years, the disease has killed up to 6% of infections, but no deaths have been reported among the current cases.

The WHO says the cases confirmed to date are of the West African group of monkeypox viruses that are less severe and appear to be related to the virus first detected in cases exported from Nigeria. to the UK, Israel and Singapore in 2018-2019.

The United Nations agency said the outbreak was “a very unusual event” and said the fact that cases are being witnessed in so many different countries suggests that the disease may have gone negative. silently spread for a while.

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What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?

The agency’s Europe director warned that as summer begins across the continent, mass gatherings, festivals and parties could accelerate the spread of monkeypox.

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Other scientists have shown that it would be difficult to distinguish whether it was sex or close sexual contact that led to the recent spread of monkeypox across Europe.

Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, said: “In essence, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, regardless of predisposition. one’s sexuality and regardless of mode of transmission,” said Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London.

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On Sunday, Britain’s Health Security Service’s chief medical adviser, Dr Susan Hopkins, said she expected more cases of monkeypox to be identified in the country “daily”. .

UK officials say a “remarkable proportion” of cases in the UK and Europe are in young men with no history of travel to Africa and who are gay, bisexual or in a relationship homosexuality.

Authorities in Portugal and Spain also said their cases were in men who mostly had sex with other men and contracted the infection when they sought help with injuries in sexual health clinics.

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Heymann, who is also a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the monkeypox outbreak could have been a random event that could be indicative of an infectious disease. single duplicate.

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Heymann hypothesizes: “It is very likely that someone has contracted the infection, developed lesions on their genitals, hands, or elsewhere, and then spread it to others during sex or close contact. close, body contact. “And then there were the international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the United States and other European countries.”

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He stressed that the disease is unlikely to trigger widespread transmission.

“This is not COVID,” he said. “We need to slow it down, but it’s not airborne and we have a vaccine to protect against it.” Heymann said studies need to be conducted quickly to determine if monkeypox can be spread to people without symptoms and that at-risk populations should take precautions. to protect yourself.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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