An advisory from the World Health Organization has indicated that pride parades carry a very low risk of spreading monkeypox because most transmission is linked to ‘enclosed venues’, such as nightclubs.
Andy Seeley, of the agency’s department for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, said at a briefing yesterday that he saw ‘no reason to be concerned’ about catching the virus at these events.
He said many of the cases reported so far were traced to indoor gatherings, leading to physical touch, the main transmission route for the virus.
The WHO advisory said condoms will not prevent someone from becoming infected, explaining that infectious skin lesions can appear anywhere on the body, including the genital area.
Pride parades are set to take place across the US in June, amid concerns from organizers over endemic cases of the virus in West Africa.
The outbreak in Europe – which has now reached more than 400 cases – was fueled by unprotected sex after a Pride event in Spain and a fetish festival in Belgium suggested WHO chiefs.
People with new rashes in the UK are now being ordered to abstain from sex or close contact with others until their wounds have healed and the scabs have dried.
A total of 15 cases have been reported in eight states in the US. They are mostly gay and bisexual men and have been linked to foreign travel, although there are now signs the virus may have spread to the US.
Andy Seele of the agency’s department for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections said at a briefing yesterday that there was ‘no reason to worry’ about catching the virus at these events.
The WHO says the Pride Parade should proceed normally. The people in the picture celebrate Pride in San Diego, California
Speaking during the conference, Seal said: ‘From our perspective, we want to send a message that it is important that people who want to go out and celebrate gay pride LGBTQ+ pride and continue to do so.
‘Most of these events are outdoors, they are family friendly.
‘We see no reason to be concerned about the increased likelihood of transmission in that context because the parties we are looking at are in more enclosed spaces etc.’
Monkeypox patient in Massachusetts with rash, fever and fluid-filled blisters
Doctors say this year America’s first monkeypox patient had ‘smallpox-like’ fluid-filled blisters on the head, palms and soles of the feet.
The man – who has not been named – was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital on May 12 with a fever and rash because antibiotics failed to clear his illness.
Doctors initially assumed that the patient had a sexually transmitted disease such as chickenpox, herpes, or even an allergic reaction. But skin and blood tests for these diseases repeatedly came back negative in the hospital’s specialist laboratory.
The connection to monkeypox happened only when the blisters developed.
The man was the first confirmed case of the virus in the US this year, and the first sign that the outbreak in Europe had crossed the Atlantic to the Americas.
At the briefing, Seal also advised that wearing a condom would not be enough to stop the virus from spreading.
‘We shouldn’t hesitate to remind people that talking about condoms is still useful, for example, for protecting people from pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
‘But for monkeypox, condoms will not provide an additional layer of protection – given the fact that close physical contact is the main risk factor.’
Monkeypox infection begins with a fever, before a rash appears on the face.
After about five days, sores also appear on the skin.
Many cases are mild and get better on their own within four weeks. But one in ten and one in 100 who become infected die of the disease.
It is mainly spread through physical contact with skin lesions, with people only being able to pass the virus on when they have symptoms.
Last week the WHO called on gay and bisexual men to take precautions to limit exposure to the virus.
He said people who have symptoms should remain in home isolation and avoid skin-to-skin contact with others.
They were also told to regularly clean their hands and surfaces, and wear a mask if they come into close contact with others.
He said: ‘Monkeypox can be spread during close skin-to-skin contact during sex, including kissing, touching, oral and penetrative sex with someone who has symptoms.
‘Avoid close contact with those who have symptoms’.
Last week LGBT dating app Grindr sent out a monkeypox alert urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of symptoms of the virus.
A 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 wounds have healed and the scab has dried.
‘Don’t go to a sexual health clinic without first contacting them. Stay home and avoid close contact with other people until you are told what to do.
Globally, monkeypox has now been observed in over 20 countries where it is no longer native, with most in Europe.
Health chiefs say the virus had been spreading for some time – possibly as early as March 15 – but was not detected.
The US has seen a total of 15 cases so far, with Florida revealing today that it has detected another possible case.
They are mostly gay and bisexual men and have been linked to foreign travel with people returning from Canada or Europe.
One case in Virginia – that of a female – has recently been traced to travel from an area of Africa where it is endemic.
Possible cases of human-to-human transmission are now being reported on US soil, in a sign the outbreak is still uncontrollable.