As dozens of monkeypox cases spread across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak needn’t dampen Pride Month festivities.
Demetre Daskalakis, director of the CDC’s HIV/AIDS division, said the message goes out to all communities. That message is vigilance, and if you have a rash, to get medical attention. He adds to “be aware that this is potentially spreading in some communities.”
The CDC said as of last Friday, there have been 45 confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S. Most are men who have intimate relations with other men.
The worldwide total as of June 8 was 1,177 cases.
Dr. David Heymann, World Health Organization advisor and former head of its emergency department, said the likely origin of the outbreak is known. It is narrowed down to sexual transmission at two raves in Europe.
There had not previously been widespread outbreaks of monkeypox outside of Africa, where he said it is endemic in animals. Heymann said it can spread through “close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected,” and sexual contact “has now amplified that transmission.”
Ominously, health officials say close contact with an infected individual, their clothing or bedsheets may bring on infection.
Another WHO official said most Pride events are outdoors and family friendly. Andy Seales, an advisor for the WHO’s department of sexually transmitted infections programs, said the group “does not see any real reason to be concerned” about transmission at these gatherings.
The organization does warn the LGBT community that condoms are in no way to be considered protection from monkeypox. It also cautions that enclosed spaces such as nightclubs are a far riskier environment.
Health officials now believe that the virus has been spreading in Europe since as early as March 15. Most U.S. cases are thought to be linked to international travel.
Infections begin with a fever, and then a rash spreads across the face. At roughly five days, the lesions appear on the skin, many times in places challenging to detect by one person on themselves. Persons with symptoms are advised to isolate themselves at home and avoid close contact with others.