Three confirmed cases of monkeypox have been linked to a homosexual fetish festival in Belgium, health authorities said Friday.
The Darklands Festival in Antwerp has been linked to all three confirmed cases of the disease in Belgium following four days of partying that began on May 5, according to AFP. The festival’s organizers said on their website that the Belgian government had asked them to inform attendees that the outbreak was likely caused by a festival-goer bringing the sickness from abroad.
Cases of the rare tropical disease monkeypox, which usually spreads through close contact, have been linked to sexual contact and LGBT networks, including a gay fetish event in Belgium. https://t.co/DyesF0twRN
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“There’s reason to assume that the virus has been brought in by visitors from abroad to the festival after recent cases in other countries,” the organizers said.
Darklands is a self-described gathering where the “various tribes in the gay fetish community (leather, rubber, army, skinhead, puppies…) come together to create a unique spectacle of fetish brotherhood,” the outlet reported. (RELATED: Here’s What The New African ‘Pox’ Sweeping The West Actually Looks Like)
The World Health Organization is investigating whether some monkeypox outbreaks are spreading within the gay community, according to AFP. The United Kingdom’s health authority has warned gay men to be on particular “alert” as cases there have disproportionately been found in that demographic.
Monkeypox is not typically fatal, but can cause serious symptoms including aches, fever and exhaustion. It often causes a rash which can begin on the face and spread to the genitals. The disease does not usually spread easily between humans, but can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person or linens they have touched, according to the outlet.