A key advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) described the outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as an ‘unforeseen event’. He said that it probably spread due to risky sexual behavior in two rave parties in Europe recently.

Dr David Heymann, who heads the WHO’s emergency department, said the strongest theory is that the disease was spread by sex between homosexuals and other people at two rave parties held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox had not previously spread outside Africa, where it was a local disease.

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Heymann said, “We know that monkeypox can be spread when someone comes in close contact with the infected and the spread of the disease increases due to sexual relations.” Germany’s government said in a report to lawmakers that there may be more cases of monkeypox in the future. Four confirmed cases in Germany have been linked to party events in Gran Canaria.

The Gran Canarian pride festival, held between May 5 and May 15 was attended by 80,000 visitors from Britain and across Europe. It is now being investigated after being linked to numerous monkeypox cases in Madrid, Italy and Tenerife.

More than 90 cases in more than 10 countries

The WHO has reported more than 90 cases of monkeypox in more than 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the United States and Australia. The first case of monkeypox was reported in Denmark on Monday.

At the same time, 37 cases have come in Portugal. Another new case has also come in from Italy. Madrid’s senior health official Enrique Ruz Escudero said that 30 cases have been confirmed in the Spanish capital so far. He said authorities were investigating a possible link between the disease and the ‘gay pride event’ in the Canary Islands, where some 80,000 people visited.

Heymann chaired a meeting of the WHO’s Consultative Group on Infectious Diseases on Friday to assess the current pandemic. He said that there is no evidence yet that monkeypox can turn into a more contagious form.

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Fever, chills, rash and sores on the face or genitals

Monkeypox commonly causes fever, chills, rash and sores on the face or genitals. It can be spread through contact with an infected person or their clothing or sheets, but so far sexually transmitted infections have not been documented.

Most people do not need to be hospitalised and recover from the disease within a few weeks. Vaccines against smallpox are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed. Some scientists have said that it is difficult to confirm that the recent spread of monkeypox in Europe was due to sexual contact.

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