Three US states have so far revealed they are probing cases of monkeypox. In both Massachusetts and Florida they have been linked back to international travel
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President Joe Biden assured Americans the nation has enough vaccines to handle the monkeypox outbreak Monday, as the WHO warned its spread may accelerate in the summer, and health chiefs probed links to festivals in Spain and Belgium as being centers of transmission for the virus.

Speaking on his first visit to Japan since taking office, Biden pointed out the U.S. had faced ‘larger numbers’ of monkeypox cases in the past and said there was ‘no need’ to impose any extra restrictions.

It was a shift in tone from the weekend in South Korea, where the President warned before boarding Air Force One that ‘everyone’ should be concerned about the disease spreading outside west Africa — where it is endemic. 

As many as 92 cases have been detected so far across 16 nations — mostly in Europe — with at least another 28 being probed, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. U.S. officials have confirmed two cases in Massachusetts and New York City, and are probing a third in Florida.

Health chiefs are alarmed about the ‘unprecedented’ cluster of cases, which has disproportionately struck gay and bisexual men.

A WHO scientist warned Monday the virus may have spread so long without being detected because it is a ‘sexual’ strain, passed on through contact with infectious skin lesions in the genital area.

Several cases have now been linked back to a Gay Pride festival attended by 80,000 in Gran Canaria, Spain, and a fetish festival in Antwerp, Belgium.

European countries have been told to move to red alert and prepare a vaccination plan for people who come into contact with an infectious case.

Three US states have so far revealed they are probing cases of monkeypox. In both Massachusetts and Florida they have been linked back to international travel

Three US states have so far revealed they are probing cases of monkeypox. In both Massachusetts and Florida they have been linked back to international travel

The outbreak has now spread to 16 countries, with Argentina becoming the 17th to say it is probing a suspected case

The outbreak has now spread to 16 countries, with Argentina becoming the 17th to say it is probing a suspected case

President Joe Biden tried to assure Americans while speaking at a press conference in Japan Monday. He said the spread of the virus did not raise as much concern as that of Covid back in March 2020

President Joe Biden tried to assure Americans while speaking at a press conference in Japan Monday. He said the spread of the virus did not raise as much concern as that of Covid back in March 2020

Asked if the outbreak was similar to the early days of Covid, Biden said: ‘I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with Covid.

‘Look, we’ve had this monkeypox in larger numbers in the past.

‘Number two, we have vaccines to take care of it. Number three, thus far, there doesn’t seem to be the need for any kind of extra efforts beyond what’s going on.’

Pride festival in Gran Canaria is linked to Spanish and Italian monkeypox outbreak 

The Gran Canarian pride festival attended by 80,000 people is being investigated after it was linked to numerous monkeypox cases in Europe.

Officials in Madrid, Tenerife and Italy all say they have at least one case in someone who attended Maspalomas Pride — held from May 5 to 15.

The Canary Islands public health services now say they are investigating any links between the cases and LGBT+ celebrations.

It comes after Belgian authorities said their three cases were linked to a fetish festival in Antwerp also held in early May. 

Organisers said there is ‘reason to assume that the virus has been brought in by visitors from abroad to the festival after recent cases in other countries’.

A Spanish health source told national newspaper El Pais: ‘Among the 30 or so diagnosed in Madrid, there are several who attended the event, although it is not yet possible to know if one of them is patient zero of this outbreak or if they all got infected there.’

Spain said last week that it was probing cases linked to a ‘sauna’, which in the country is a term for a location where gay people meet to have sex.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed that one of the Italian men who has the virus was in the Canary Islands, but denied knowing if the man from Tenerife had travelled there, according to a report from the Spanish news website.

A second Italian man who was also in the Canary Islands contracted the virus. All three Italian men with the virus are unknown to each other.

Biden said yesterday: ‘Well, [the health advisors] haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about.

‘We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, may be available for it.

‘But it is a concern — if it were to spread, it’s consequential. But that’s all they’ve told me.’

Florida became the third U.S. state to reveal it was probing a suspected case of the virus on Sunday. 

The patient is now in isolation at Fort Lauderdale, and had come in with the infection following ‘international travel’. 

New York City officials revealed over the weekend that its patient had tested positive for the family of viruses that includes monkeypox. Further swabs are now being undertaken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to confirm whether this is a case of monkeypox. 

Massachusetts revealed it had detected a case last week in a man who travelled from Canada by car.

Monkeypox patients can be infectious for up to four weeks, or as long as they have symptoms.

Symptoms include a fever up to 21 days after infection, with a rash then appearing three days later on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.

Transmission occurs through contact with the infectious lesions, or droplets expelled by patients into the air.

Most cases are mild, but experts say the strain now spreading through the western world kills about one in 100 people it infects — similar to the fatality rate when Covid first took off. 

But Dr David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist at the WHO, says physical contact is likely the key route of transmission in this outbreak — and warned it looked to be being spread sexually.

He said: ‘What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified transmission around the world.’

Dr Heymann was part of the WHO team that met via a video conference Friday to consider what needed to be studied in the outbreak and communicated to the public. 

Health chiefs are probing links to a Gay Pride festival in Gran Canaria, Spain, after linking numerous monkeypox cases in Madrid, Tenerife and Italy to the event held between May 5 and 15 which attracted people from across the continent.

A health source told Spanish newspaper El Pais: ‘Among the 30 or so [monkeypox cases] diagnosed in Madrid, there are several who attended the event, although it is not yet possible to know if one of them is patient zero in this outbreak or if they all got infected there.’

In Belgium, three cases have been linked with a large-scale fetish festival in Antwerp, which ran from May 5 to May 8. Organisers said there is ‘reason to assume that the virus has been brought in by visitors from abroad to the festival after recent cases in other countries’.

Undated handout file image issued by the UK Health Security Agency of the stages of Monkeypox

Undated handout file image issued by the UK Health Security Agency of the stages of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which causes unusual rashes or lesions (shown in a handout provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily between people. The tropical disease is endemic in parts of Africa and is known for its rare and unusual rashes, bumps and lesions (file photo)

Chinese social media users blame US for monkeypox outbreak 

Users of China’s social media have blamed the United States for the global outbreak of monkeypox, which has already spread to 16 nations.

Platform Weibo had monkeypox trending as a popular topic over the past three days, with the hashtag reporting two cases in America attracting more than 51million views.

Posts on the topic have been liked tens of thousands of times.

China’s state media has refrained from accusing the U.S. of intentionally spreading monkeypox, however.

This is a different approach from with Covid, when it made the accusation.

WHO chiefs fear many more cases will be detected in the coming weeks as the virus appears to have been transmitting outside west Africa for some time.

Dr Hans Kluge, its top Europe official, said Friday: ‘As we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission [of monkeypox] could accelerate.’

He added that cases were being detected ‘among those engaging in sexual activity’ with many not recognizing the symptoms.

America ordered more than 13 million freeze-dried smallpox vaccines — that work against monkeypox — last week for $119 million as its first case was detected.

But health chiefs have later insisted the order was unrelated to the outbreak of monkeypox.

The vaccine, called Jynneous, is about 85 percent effective against the virus and can be given shortly after someone is exposed to the infection to ‘bolster’ their immunity.

Patients can also be given a smallpox drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week to treat patients. 

In Europe, countries have been told to prepare vaccination plans to tackle the surging outbreak as Denmark became the latest country to be struck down with the virus.

European Union authorities are also set to publish a risk assessment, which will advise all member states to draw up an inoculation strategy to control the spread of tropical diseases.

The strategy, called ring vaccination, involves jabbing and monitoring anyone around an infected person to form a buffer of immune people to limit the disease’s spread.

Belgium yesterday became the first country to impose a compulsory 21-day monkeypox quarantine for anyone who tests positive for the virus, after recording three cases in the country. 

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