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WHO expert David Heymann says monkeypox outbreak came from sex at European raves

The ongoing monkeypox outbreak could have stemmed from sexual activity at raves in Europe, according to a World Health Organization expert.

Dr. David Heymann said that the unusual spread could have originated from sexual encounters at recent gatherings in Belgium and Spain.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected,” he said. “And it looks like the sexual contact has now amplified that transmission.”

Until now, monkeypox had not spread beyond Africa, where the disease has been traced to human contact with infected animals.

Most of the recent confirmed cases in Europe are linked to sexual contact between men.

Spanish officials said monkeypox cases there have been traced to a Gay Pride celebration in the Canary Islands that drew tens of thousands of revelers.

The German cases have been linked to sexual activity at raves.

An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1996 to 1997, shows the arms and torso of a patient with skin lesions due to monkeypox.
via REUTERS

“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 said. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the US and other European countries.”

But health officials warn that the virus can spread by close contact with infected parties or their clothing.

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

Chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee, Professor David L. Heymann attends a press conference. He said monkeypox may have sparked up again because of sexual activity at European raves.
The chairman of the World Health Organization Emergency Committee, Professor David L. Heymann, attends a press conference. He said monkeypox may have sparked up again because of sexual activity at European raves.
Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

The WHO has confirmed about 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including the US, Germany, France, Israel and Denmark.

Possible cases have been identified in three US states thus far — New York, Massachusetts and Florida.

Meanwhile, Heyman stressed that the disease is containable and not airborne.

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event."
A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event.”
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File

“This is not COVID,” he said. “We need to slow it down, but it does not spread in the air and we have vaccines to protect against it.”

Symptoms from the latest outbreak have been relatively mild, with patients usually recovering in a matter of weeks without hospitalization.

Signs of infection can include fever along with lesions in the genital area.

With Post wires

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