Belgium attributes infection to fetish festival
After the discovery of several cases of monkeypox, the authorities are looking for the causes of the infections. In Spain, a sauna had to close, and in Belgium the management of a festival is supposed to inform visitors at risk. Sweden also reacted to protect the risk group.
IIn North Rhine-Westphalia, according to the State Ministry of Health, there are indications “of possible contact between people and the monkeypox virus”. A ministry spokesperson said on Saturday that advice would be followed. The National Health Center is in close contact with the permanent working group of competence and treatment centers for diseases caused by highly pathogenic pathogens.
“The situation is being closely monitored; doctors and health authorities are urged to be more vigilant,” the ministry spokesperson added. According to the current conclusions of the Robert Koch Institute, a health risk for the general population in Germany is considered to be low.
The fetish festival as a place of possible contagion
Meanwhile, the cases of monkeypox in Belgium are apparently linked to a major fetish festival in Antwerp. Organizers of the Darklands festival, held in early May, said on Friday Belgian authorities had linked the contagion to the festival. Belgium has so far officially confirmed three cases of monkeypox. In Spain, a gay sauna has been forced to close temporarily due to a suspected link to an outbreak of monkeypox.
The festival’s Belgian organizers said on their website that there was a “reasonable assumption” that the virus was likely transmitted by foreign visitors. The Belgian government has asked the festival management to inform the festival guests.
According to the organizers, the Darklands Festival is aimed at “different groups in the gay fetish community”. According to the organizers, clubs and organizations are behind the festival and more than 150 volunteers work there. Commercial events take place during the day and parties in the evening.
Spain closes sauna and investigates gay pride
In Madrid, the Spanish capital, health authorities have ordered the temporary closure of a gay sauna due to a suspected link to an outbreak of monkeypox. The “El Paraíso” sauna club will remain closed for the next few days as a “precautionary measure”, the operators announced on Twitter on Friday.
Authorities have registered 21 confirmed cases and 19 suspected cases, said Enrique Ruiz Escudero, a representative of the Madrid region health authorities. Most of those who tested positive are said to have a sauna connection.
In addition, authorities are investigating the hypothesis that gay pride parties on the holiday island of Gran Canaria could have been another source of infection for monkeypox. The newspaper “El País” reported on Saturday, citing sources in the health sector.
About 80,000 people from Spain and many other countries took part in the “Maspalomas Pride”, attended mainly by gay people, from May 5 to 15, the newspaper reported. Men from Italy, Madrid and the neighboring island of Tenerife, where the virus was detected, are said to have taken part in the celebrations. Intimate contact is a possible route of transmission of the virus.
After the first case of monkeypox infection was also confirmed in Sweden in the greater Stockholm area, the country’s government classified the rare viral disease as dangerous for the general public. “The classification allows measures to be taken to prevent infection in order to avoid further spread,” explained Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren. “It is also important that information reaches at-risk groups and that health services are prepared to treat and follow up suspected cases.”
Monkeypox, which is particularly widespread in central and western Africa, has been detected in several countries in Europe and North America since the beginning of May. Fever, severe headache, back pain, sore throat, cough and often also swollen lymph nodes are possible symptoms. A rash that spreads from the face to the body is also typical. Blindness and disfiguring scars rarely occur as permanent damage. After the first cases in Britain, reports have also been made in the United States and several European countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gay or bisexual men in particular have been infected so far and have warned of a rapid spread of monkeypox in Europe in the coming months. “I fear the transmission is accelerating,” WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge said on Friday, referring to events, festivals and parties that often take place in the summer. According to Kluge, the spread of the rare disease is “atypical”. “All but one of the most recent cases have no relevant history of travel to areas where monkeypox is endemic,” Kluge said.
On Friday, a monkeypox infection was also detected in Germany for the first time. According to the Bavarian Ministry of Health, he is a 26-year-old Brazilian who entered Germany from Portugal via Spain and has been in Munich for about a week. According to Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD), he assumes that the epidemic can be contained.