According to the expert, smallpox can be transmitted through sexual intercourse twice in Europe

LONDON – A senior World Health Organization adviser has described the unprecedented spread of smallpox in developed countries as an “accident” that could be explained by dangerous sexual behavior at two major European events.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. David Haymann, a former head of the World Health Organization’s emergency department, said that sexually transmitted infections among gay and bisexual men in two races in Spain and Belgium were the main theories behind the spread of the disease. Smallpox has not previously caused outbreaks outside of Africa, which is endemic to animals.

“We know that monkey smallpox infection can spread when it is in close contact with the wounds of an infected person, and now sex seems to have exacerbated this infectious disease,” Heymann said.

This represents a typical spread of the disease in central and western Africa, where humans are mainly infected by animals such as wild rodents and primates, and the epidemic has not spread across borders.

To date, the WHO has registered more than 90 cases of monkey disease in dozens of countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the United States, and Australia.

A senior Madrid health official said 30 confirmed cases had been reported in the Spanish capital on Monday. According to Enrique Ruiz Escudero, authorities are investigating possible links between the recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew about 80,000 people, and the events in the Madrid sauna.

Heimann held an emergency meeting of the WHO’s infectious disease risk advisory group on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence that the monkeys had become infected.

Smallpox usually causes fever, chills, rashes, and damage to the face or genitals. This infection can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person or his or her clothing or bedding, but sexually transmitted infections have not yet been documented. Most people recover within a few weeks without being hospitalized. Smallpox vaccines are also effective in preventing smallpox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

In recent years, the disease has killed up to 6 percent of infections, but no deaths have been reported so far. The WHO said the confirmed cases were already a less serious group of monkeys in West Africa and were linked to the virus, which was first detected when exported from Nigeria to Britain, Israel and Singapore in 2018-2019.

The UN agency called the epidemic “a very unusual event” and the fact that cases are being observed in different countries suggests that the disease may have been spreading silently for some time. The agency’s director for Europe has warned that with the onset of summer across the continent, mass gatherings, festivals and parties will accelerate the spread of the monkey disease.

Other scientists have noted that it is difficult to tell whether it is sexual intercourse or sexual intercourse, which has led to the recent spread of smallpox in Europe.

Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, said: “By nature, sexual activity is intimate, which increases a person’s chances of being infected, regardless of their sexual orientation and method of transmission.”

On Sunday, the chief medical adviser to the British Health Safety Agency, Dr. Susan Hopkins said she expected more cases of monkey disease in the country to be identified “on a daily basis”.

British officials say a “significant proportion” of cases in Britain and Europe have occurred in young men who have not traveled to Africa and are gay, bisexual or have sex with men. Authorities in Portugal and Spain also reported that their cases were more common in men who had sex with other men and who became infected when they sought help from sexual health clinics.

Haymann, a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said smallpox could be an accident that could be caused by an infection.

“Someone may be infected, sores may appear on the genitals, hands, or elsewhere, and then spread to others through sexual or intimate, physical contact,” Heymann said. “Then there were the international events that led to the epidemic in the United States and other European countries around the world.”

He stressed that it is unlikely to contribute to the spread of the disease.

“It’s not Covid,” he said. “We need to slow it down, but it won’t spread through the air and we have vaccines to protect it.” Haymann said urgent research is needed to determine if monkeys can be infected by people without symptoms of smallpox, and that populations at risk should take precautions to protect themselves.

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