Monkeypox outbreak linked to superspreader event at adult sauna

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 had 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 under way. A “notable proportion” of the UK 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 5, 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”.

Cases among gay and bisexual men

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. 

In the UK, a link was first drawn between gay men and monkeypox earlier in the week, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) urging men who have sex with other men to be particularly alert to any new rashes or lesions on their body, including their genitalia. 

“The Public Health Department will carry out an even more detailed analysis…to control contagion, cut the chains of transmission and try to mitigate the transmission of this virus as much as possible,” Mr Escudero said, Reuters reports. 

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 US and to Spain, Portugal and the UK, the virus may have been circulating for some time before being detected at the start of May. 

‘Transmission could accelerate’

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.

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