Cases of the rare tropical disease monkeypox, which usually spreads through close contact, have been linked to sexual contact and LGBT networks, including a gay fetish event in Belgium. The Telegraph has the story.
Monkeypox cases in Spain have been linked to a superspreader event at an adult sauna in Madrid.
Enrique Ruiz Escudero, the region’s cabinet minister of health of the community, said on Friday that health officials have traced many of Spain’s 30 monkeypox cases to a single sauna in the nation’s capital.
Britain’s monkeypox tally now stands at 20 after 11 fresh cases were announced on Friday and contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts is underway. A “notable proportion” of the U.K. and European cases are in gay and bisexual men, health officials have said.
Three cases in Belgium have also been linked to a large-scale fetish festival in Antwerp, according to organisers.
The Darklands Festival warned people who attended four days of parties, starting on May 5th, that authorities had linked the event to the country’s three confirmed cases.
“There’s reason to assume that the virus has been brought in by visitors from abroad to the festival after recent cases in other countries,” the festival said on its website.
Darklands is a ticketed event that describes itself as a place where “various tribes in the gay fetish community (leather, rubber, army, skinhead, puppies…) come together to create a unique spectacle of fetish brotherhood”.
Sources tell the Telegraph that an internationally advertised gay party in Spain is also being investigated as the root cause of the global preponderence of monkeypox cases in gay and bisexual men.
With cases scattered around the globe and not linked to one another, it is thought the virus has been circulating for some time. Which would kind of suggest it’s a nothingburger, but that hasn’t stopped the growing hysteria.
The Telegraph also understands that experts are concerned about the outbreak in LGBTQ communities as gay pride events are due to begin soon, with the potential for further spread.
London’s Gay Pride is in just six weeks’ time, for example, and experts are trying to trace and isolate any close contacts of known cases to prevent the outbreak growing further.
However, they warn that due to cases being seen around the world, from the U.S. and to Spain, Portugal and the U.K., the virus may have been circulating for some time before being detected at the start of May.
Dr. Hans Kluge, World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Europe, said: “As we enter the summer season in the European region, with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate, as the cases currently being detected are among those engaging in sexual activity, and the symptoms are unfamiliar to many.
Normally hard to spread from one person to another, this is the first time there has been sustained human-to-human transmission of monkeypox outside Africa of which scientists are aware – but then, they admit they hadn’t noticed the spread, which had likely been going on for months, till now anyhow.
UKHSA scientists said earlier this week that the virus is likely spreading through sexual networks, which is due to skin-on-skin contact with exposed lesions laced with virus in a similar way to syphilis.
This is the first time this link has ever been seen for monkeypox, and is challenging what scientists know about the virus’s transmission.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the UKHSA, said: “Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact NHS 111 or a sexual health service if they have any concerns. Please contact clinics ahead of your visit and avoid close contact with others until you have been seen by a clinician.
“A notable proportion of recent cases in the U.K. and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned.”
Predictably, the WHO has convened an emergency meeting, while the U.K. has confirmed it has procured further doses of a vaccine.
Bernard Hoet, VP of medical strategy at Bavarian Nordic, told the Telegraph: “The reason why this vaccine was developed was to have a safe vaccine for stockpiling in case of outbreaks of smallpox. We are in contact with the U.K. authorities about the use of the vaccine. At the moment, I don’t know exactly who is receiving the vaccine in the U.K.”
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Michael Senger has noted the bizarre coincidence that the first ever global monkeypox outbreak has happened in the exact week predicted in a biosecurity simulation last year (see below), not unlike how the COVID-19 outbreak began shortly after a coronavirus pandemic simulation, Event 201. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but that is quite the coincidence.