Monkeypox spread likely “amplified” by sex at 2 raves in Europe, leading WHO adviser says

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the uncommon illness monkeypox in developed nations as “a random event” that could be defined by dangerous sexual habits at two current mass occasions in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who previously headed WHO’s emergencies division, mentioned the leading concept to clarify the spread of the illness was sexual transmission amongst homosexual and bisexual males at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not beforehand triggered widespread outbreaks past Africa, the place it’s 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,” mentioned Heymann.

That marks a big departure from the illness’s typical sample of spread in central and western Africa, the place persons are primarily contaminated by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks haven’t spilled throughout borders.

To date, WHO has recorded greater than 90 circumstances of monkeypox in a dozen nations together with Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, Australia and the U.S.

In the U.S., to this point, the CDC says there’s one confirmed case in Boston. There are additionally suspected circumstances in Broward County, Florida, and New York City.

The virus is spread by means of physique fluids, pores and skin and respiratory droplets. “It’s important to know that this virus really does require close personal contact,” mentioned Dr. Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She advised CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook it is uncommon that we’re seeing circumstances taking place in a number of nations at the identical time: “We’ve never seen that.”

Madrid’s senior well being official mentioned on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed circumstances to this point. Enrique Ruiz Escudero mentioned authorities are investigating attainable hyperlinks between a current Gay Pride occasion in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 folks, and circumstances at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an pressing meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious illness threats on Friday to evaluate the continuing epidemic and mentioned there was no proof to counsel that monkeypox might need mutated right into a extra infectious type.

Monkeypox sometimes causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It could be spread by means of shut contact with an contaminated individual or their clothes or bedsheets, however sexual transmission has not but been documented. Most folks get well from the illness inside a number of weeks with out requiring hospitalization. Vaccines in opposition to smallpox, a associated illness, are additionally efficient in stopping monkeypox and a few antiviral medication are being developed.

In current years, the illness has been deadly in as much as 6% of infections, however no deaths have been reported among the many present circumstances. WHO mentioned confirmed circumstances have to this point been the much less extreme West African group of monkeypox viruses and gave the impression to be linked to a virus that was first detected in exported circumstances from Nigeria to Britain, Israel and Singapore in 2018-2019.

The U.N. company mentioned the outbreak is “a highly unusual event” and mentioned the truth that circumstances are being seen in so many alternative nations suggests the illness might have been silently spreading for a while. The company’s Europe director warned that as summer time begins throughout the continent, mass gatherings, festivals and events might speed up the spread of monkeypox.

Other scientists have identified that it is going to be troublesome to disentangle whether or not it’s sex itself or the shut contact associated to sex that has pushed the current spread of monkeypox throughout Europe.

“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,” mentioned Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London.

On Sunday, the chief medical adviser of Britain’s Health Security Agency, Dr. Susan Hopkins, mentioned she anticipated extra monkeypox circumstances to be recognized in the nation “on a daily basis.”

U.Ok. officers have mentioned “a notable proportion” of the circumstances in Britain and Europe have been in younger males with no historical past of journey to Africa and who’re homosexual, bisexual or have sex with males. Authorities in Portugal and Spain additionally mentioned their circumstances have been in males who largely had sex with different males and whose infections have been picked up after they sought assist for lesions at sexual well being clinics.

Heymann, who can be a professor of infectious illnesses at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, mentioned the monkeypox outbreak was likely a random occasion that could be traceable to a single an infection.

“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close, physical contact,” Heymann hypothesized. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the U.S. and other European countries.”

He emphasised that the illness was unlikely to set off widespread transmission.

“This is not COVID,” he mentioned. “We need to slow it down, but it does not spread in the air and we have vaccines to protect against it.” Heymann mentioned research ought to be performed quickly to find out if monkeypox could possibly be spread by folks with out signs and that populations at threat of the illness ought to take precautions to guard themselves.

CBS News’ Dr. LaPook agreed. 

“This should be taken seriously, and it is being taken seriously by public health officials,” LaPook mentioned. “But remember, this is very different than COVID. When the pandemic started, SARS CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID, we knew nothing about it, it was a brand new virus. We had no therapeutics, we had no vaccines, we didn’t know anything about that disease. 

“This could be very completely different. We’ve recognized about monkeypox for greater than 60 years. There are vaccines, there are therapeutics, we’ve numerous expertise coping with it, definitely in Africa.” 

Also, he famous, (*2*) 

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