Britain has warned of an internal outbreak of monkeypox

Monkeypox appears to be spreading from person to person in England, the UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

The mild viral disease, which is endemic in West and Central Africa, is usually spread through close contact. Until the beginning of May, cases rarely occurred outside Africa and were usually related to travel there.

“The current outbreak is the first time the virus has been transmitted from person to person in England, where no links have been identified to travel to an endemic country,” the agency was quoted as saying by Reuters.

According to the UKHSA, the majority of cases in the UK – 132 – are in London. 111 cases are thought to be in homosexual and bisexual men. Only two cases have been reported in women.

Only 18% of cases (34) were related to travel to different countries in Europe within 21 days of the onset of symptoms. As of 31 May, the total number of confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United Kingdom was 190.

“Investigations are ongoing, but no factor or exposure has been identified to link the cases,” the agency warned.

So far, UKHSA has identified links to gay bars, saunas, and the use of dating apps in the UK and abroad.

“As with any new epidemic, the risk of stigma and insecurity is high,” said Kevin Fenton, London’s regional director of public health, noting that most new diagnoses are among the gay community.

Smallpox usually causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions that usually go away on their own within 2-4 weeks. The death rate from the disease is 1%, but no deaths have been reported in Europe so far.

The UK health authorities are offering the Bavarian Nordic vaccine, Imvanex, to people who have had contact with confirmed or suspected cases.

The total number of cases in the EU has exceeded 300, with the highest number of infections found in Spain and Portugal. Patients have been reported in 14 of the 27 EU countries.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it had so far received reports of more than 550 confirmed cases of the virus from 30 countries outside Africa.

WHO: Monkeypox is not a reason to cancel gay parades

The unusual outbreak of monkeypox does not mean people should avoid the pride parades of LGBTI communities this summer, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said Monday, adding that it is important to show support.

The infectious disease, which can cause flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has so far spread mainly to men who have sex with men. Health officials stressed that the disease can be transmitted to anyone who has close contact, such as skin-to-skin contact, with an infected person.

“Most of these events are outdoors. We see no real reason to worry about the increased likelihood of transmission in these conditions,” Andy Seal, a strategy adviser at the WHO’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Program, told Reuters.

He pointed out that the main nests of infection so far are associated with enclosed spaces such as nightclubs.

Some of the world’s largest parades are already scheduled for June 26 in New York and July 23 in Berlin.

Another WHO official said the outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa was unlikely to lead to a pandemic, adding that it remained unclear whether infected people who showed no symptoms could transmit the disease.

More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox were reported in May, mostly in Europe.

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