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WHO warns festivals could amplify spread of monkeypox

UK cases of the contagious virus have now topped 300

WHO warns festivals could amplify spread of monkeypox

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that summer festivals, and other such large-scale events in the coming months, could amplify the spread of monkeypox.

The contagious virus has recently been at the centre of a significant outbreak across Europe and the US. Considered similar to smallpox, its effects, however, include a milder rash, while it also carries a lower mortality rate than smallpox. The virus is typically carried by animals in tropical regions of central and West Africa, where small numbers of cases are often reported.

Issuing a warning around the virus' spread across Europe and the US, the WHO said that summer festival season could "provide further contexts where amplification may occur".

The virus is known to be spread through very close contact with an infected individual, such as through sexual contact, as well as potentially through clothing or bed linen.

"As new patients present every day, investigations into past cases show that the outbreak in our region was certainly underway as early as mid-April," said WHO Europe regional director Dr. Hans Henri Kluge. "Many – but not all cases – report fleeting and/or multiple sexual partners, sometimes associated with large events or parties."

Describing Europe as currently being at the epicentre of the outbreak, he said the potential for further transmission of the virus was high because the most recent series of cases present the "largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported".

As of Sunday, 5th June, the UK has recorded 302 total cases of monkeypox. Symptoms of the virus include new rashes and blisters on your skin.

Speaking last week, Kluge said that while the "rapid, amplified transmission [of the virus] has occurred in the context of the recent lifting of pandemic restrictions on international travel and events", we won't quite need to see the levels of restrictions introduced that were required to combat early outbreaks of COVID-19. 

The risk to the public from the virus, Kluge said, "remains low", but health officials are warning people to pay close attentions to new spots, rashes, ulcers and blisters.