The opening of the summer beach season takes place in parallel with the development of a new epidemic that is spreading through European cities and resorts. It's about monkeypox. Despite the fact that medical experts reassure tourists, however, the fact remains that cases of infection are spreading very quickly – smallpox has reached popular resorts – its symptoms are unpleasant, and there are even deaths. But worst of all, many media outlets are spreading panic, disrupting this summer's already fragile tourist season.
For example, there has been a surge in monkeypox in resorts in Spain over the past few days, and health authorities have confirmed more than 40 positive cases to date, while another 67 patients are being tested in 10 different regions. According to Spanish media, on the popular Canary island of Fuerteventura, many new cases of infection have already been identified. A Canary Islands health official confirmed the news without giving any further details.
The infection is known to be transmitted through close, long-term contact. According to Spanish publications, this explains most of the infections found after visiting a sauna in Madrid, popular among gays, and a festival recently held in Gran Canaria, which attracted about 80,000 tourists from Europe.
However, while Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins advised tourists in Spain to be “viral vigilant”, she insisted that “the risk to the public and 'classic' tourists in general remains extremely low.
Monkey cases so far have mostly been found in homosexual and bisexual men, although one infection has been reported in a woman in the Extremadura region of Spain. This has led many to misinterpret monkeypox as a sexually transmitted disease, although it can indeed be contracted through sex, explained WHO's Andy Seal.
“Although we do see some cases among men who having sex with men is not a gay disease, as some people on social media have tried to label it. This is simply not the case,” she was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The tropical virus has now been detected in sixteen countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, and although the WHO insists its spread is quite “contained “and that human-to-human transmission can be stopped, experts agree that “we can't look away from what's going on,” even more so when it comes to a beach holiday. Although there is no vaccine against monkeypox, several reports have suggested that administering the smallpox vaccine within four days of infection may have a “significant protective effect”.
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