Pride parades pose little risk of spreading monkeypox because most transmission is linked to ‘enclosed spaces’ such as nightclubs, a World Health Organization adviser has hinted.
Andy Seale, from the agency’s department for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, said in a briefing yesterday there was no ‘enhanced risk’ of transmission at the annual celebrations.
Many cases have been traced back to gatherings in indoor spaces, he said, where the virus transmits through physical touch.
He added that condoms would not stop someone from getting infected because skin lesions — that spread the virus — could open up all over the body.
In Britain, health chiefs are telling people suffering any symptom of the virus such as a rash to abstain from sex and close physical contact.
Once someone clears an infection they are being told to wear a condom for eight weeks ‘as a precaution’. There is no evidence it spreads through semen.
A disproportionate number of monkeypox infections have been detected among gay and bisexual men globally and in the United States.
Europe’s outbreak — which has now hit 400 cases — is suspected to have been driven by mass pride celebrations in Spain and a fetish festival in Belgium last month.
But the WHO suggests the virus may have been spreading on the continent undetected since as early as March 15.
In the U.S., a total of 15 cases have been detected across eight states. Most are linked to international travel, although health chiefs are now assuming that human-to-human transmission is taking place in the country.
Andy Seale, from the agency’s department for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, said in a briefing yesterday there was ‘no reason to be concerned’ about catching the virus at these events
The WHO says Pride parades should go ahead as normal. Pictured are people celebrating Pride in San Diego, California
Speaking during the conference, Seale said: ‘From our point of view, we would like to send a message that it is important that people who want to go out and celebrate gay pride LGBTQ+ pride to continue to go and do so.
‘Most of these events are outdoors, they are family friendly.
‘We don’t see any reason to be concerned about enhanced likelihood of transmission in that context because the parties we have bene looking into have been in more enclosed spaces etc.’
People with monkeypox told to abstain from sex and wear condoms for EIGHT WEEKS after infection
People with monkeypox have been told to avoid having sex.
Even after clearing the infection, they are advised to wear condoms for eight weeks.
Health chiefs insist the risk to the public remains low.
But they have urged everyone to be on the lookout for new rashes or lesions on any part of their body — which appear like spots, ulcers or blisters.
In the guidance, the UKHSA said: ‘Cases should also abstain from sex while symptomatic, including the period of early symptom onset, and while lesions are present.
‘Whilst there is currently no available evidence of monkeypox in genital excretions, as a precaution, cases are advised to use condoms for eight weeks after infection and this guidance will be updated as evidence emerges.’
In the briefing, Seale also gave advice that wearing a condom would not be enough to stop the virus spreading.
‘We shouldn’t shy away from reminding people that it is still useful to talk about condoms, for example, for protecting people against pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
‘But for monkeypox, condoms will not provide a layer of protection that’s additional — given the fact that close bodily contact is the main risk factor.’
Monkeypox infections begin with a fever before a rash emerges across the face.
Around five days later lesions also appear on the skin.
Many cases are mild and clear up within four weeks on their own. But between one in ten and one in 100 people who become infected die from the disease.
It is primarily spread through physical contact with skin lesions, with people only able to pass on the virus when they have symptoms.
Last week the WHO called on gay and bisexual men to take precautions to limit their exposure to the virus.
They said anyone who has symptoms should isolate at home and avoid skin-to-skin contact with others.
They were also told to keep their hands and surfaces that are regularly touched clean, and to wear a mask if they came into close contact with others.
They said: ‘Monkeypox can spread during close skin-to-skin contact during sex, including kissing, touching, oral and penetrative sex with someone who has symptoms.
‘Avoid having close contact with anyone who has symptoms’.
Last week LGBT dating app Grindr sent out a monkeypox alert urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of the virus’ symptoms.
The warning was issued to users across Europe last night, advising them to contact their sexual health provider if they have any unusual sores or rashes.
British health chiefs are now ordering potential monkeypox patients to avoid having sex with others.
In guidance published on Monday, they said: ‘People with possible, probable or confirmed monkeypox should avoid contact with other people until their lesions have healed and the scabs have dried off.
‘Do not go to a sexual health clinic without contacting them first. Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people until you’ve been told what to do.’
Globally, monkeypox has now been spotted in more than 20 countries where it is not native with most in Europe.
Health chiefs say the virus was likely circulating for some time — potentially as early as March 15 — but remained undetected.
A total of 15 cases have been spotted in the U.S. so far, with Florida today revealing it has detected another potential case.
They are mostly among gay and bisexual men and have been linked to travel abroad with people returning from Canada or Europe.
One case in Virginia — which is in a woman — has been traced back to recent travel from an area of Africa where it is endemic.
There are now potential cases of human-to-human transmission being reported on U.S. soil, in a sign the outbreak is still circulating undiagnosed.