Tuesday 24 May 2022 06:52 PM Grindr sends out monkeypox alert and urges gay and bisexual men to be aware of ... trends now

Tuesday 24 May 2022 06:52 PM Grindr sends out monkeypox alert and urges gay and bisexual men to be aware of ... trends now
Tuesday 24 May 2022 06:52 PM Grindr sends out monkeypox alert and urges gay and bisexual men to be aware of ... trends now

Tuesday 24 May 2022 06:52 PM Grindr sends out monkeypox alert and urges gay and bisexual men to be aware of ... trends now

Grindr has sent out a monkeypox alert, urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of the virus's tell-tale rash.

The dating app is the world's largest for men who have sex with men, who have been disproportionately infected in the unprecedented outbreak.

It issued the warning to its users across Europe last night, advising them to contact their sexual health provider if they or any recent sexual partners have unusual sores or rashes. 

Monkeypox — usually only seen in west and central Africa — has now been spotted in 19 countries in little over a fortnight.

The tropical virus can spread through any close contact with a sick person, including by touching contaminated clothing, bedding or utensils.

Scientists believe the international outbreak could have been sparked by sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain. 

The message from Grindr, which has partnered with health agencies in the UK and EU, sent users to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's page on monkeypox.

It also shared a linked to a webpage which enables users to find a local healthcare provider, in case they do not have their own doctor.

Monkeypox outbreak may have been sparked by sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain, WHO expert warns

Sexual transmission at two festivals in Europe may have sparked the world’s escalating monkeypox outbreak, a World Health Organization expert has claimed.

Dr David Heymann, who used to head the WHO's emergencies department, revealed it was the leading theory behind the origins of the current cluster of cases.

He said: 'We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission.

'It's very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close physical contact.

'And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the US and other European countries.'

Despite not naming either festival, health chiefs tasked with containing the virus have already begun tracing cases back to the Gran Canarian gay pride festival – attended by up to 80,000 people between May 5-15.

Meanwhile, three cases in Belgium have been linked with Darklands – a large-scale fetish festival in Antwerp, held from May 5-8. Organisers have since said there is ‘reason to assume’ someone at the event was infected.

Spanish health chiefs have also linked many cases to a single 'sauna' in Madrid. 

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The Grindr notification sent out said: 'The monkeypox virus is spreading in Europe, particularly among men who have sex with men. 

'It is transmitted through close contact, like during sexual intercourse or through contaminated bedding, sex toys.

'If you or any recent (last 21 days) partner have unusual sores or rash, contact your sexual health provider or local health provider.' 

A Grindr spokesperson told MailOnline the message, issued in 13 languages, aimed to help users 'understand the situation and find testing providers'.

The app is also working on a project with health chiefs in the US to communicate monkeypox public health advice to Americans.

The ECDC webpage advises that  'men who have sex with other men that engage in casual sex, or who have multiple sexual partners' should be vigilant.

It tells anyone with any tell-tale symptoms to seek specialist care and 'abstain from sexual activities or any other type of activities involving close contact until monkeypox is either excluded or the infection is resolved'.

The disease, first discovered in lab monkeys in the late 1950s, is usually mild but can cause severe illness in some cases. It can kill up to 10 per cent of people it infects. 

The milder strain causing the current outbreak kills one in 100 — similar to when Covid first hit.

Monkeypox has an incubation period of anywhere up to 21 days, meaning it can take three weeks for symptoms to appear.

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, which then spreads to other parts of the body — including the genitals. The rash can look like chickenpox or syphilis, and scabs can form which then fall off.

Health chiefs tasked with containing the virus have already traced cases back to the Gran Canarian gay pride festival – attended by up to 80,000 people between May 5-15.

And three cases in Belgium have been linked with Darklands – a large-scale fetish festival in Antwerp, held from May 5-8. Organisers have since said there is 'reason to assume' someone at the event was infected. 

It comes as the England today confirmed another 14 monkeypox cases, bringing the UK-wide total to 71.

England has logged 70 cases since the first case was publicised on May 7, while Scotland has recorded one. None have yet been detected in Wales or Northern Ireland.

Officials said a 'notable proportion' have occurred among gay and bisexual men but have not provided an exact breakdown. No gender or age details have been shared, either. 

UKHSA teams are contacting people considered to be high-risk contacts of confirmed cases and advising them to self-isolate at home for three weeks and avoid contact with children.

They are also being offered the Imvanex vaccine, which was designed for smallpox. 

Although not purposefully made for monkeypox, the jab — made by Danish-based Bavarian Nordic — is up to 85 per cent effective because the two viruses are so similar.

The strategy, known as ring vaccination, involves jabbing and monitoring anyone around an infected person to form a buffer of immune people to limit the spread of the disease. EU health chiefs yesterday called on member states to adopt a similar plan.

How DO you catch monkeypox and what are the symptoms? EVERYTHING you need to know about tropical virus

How do you catch monkeypox?

Until this worldwide outbreak, monkeypox was usually caught from infected animals in west and central Africa.

The tropical virus is thought to be spread by rodents, including rats, mice and even squirrels. 

Humans can catch the illness — which comes from the same family as smallpox — if they're bitten by infected animals, or touch their blood, bodily fluids, or scabs. 

Consuming contaminated wild game or bush meat can also spread the virus.

The orthopoxvirus can enter the body through broken skin — even if it's not visible, as well as the eyes, nose and mouth.

Despite being mainly spread by wild animals, it was known that monkeypox could be passed on between people.

However, health chiefs insist it is very rare.

Human-to-human spread can occur if someone touches clothing or bedding used by an infected person, or through direct contact with the virus' tell-tale scabs. 

The virus can also spread through coughs and sneezes. 

In the ongoing surge in cases, experts think the virus is passing through skin-to-skin contact during sex — even though this exact mechanism has never been seen until now.

How deadly is it?

Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. 

Yet, the disease kills up to 10 per cent of cases. But this high rate is thought to be in part due to a historic lack of testing meaning that a tenth of known cases have died rather than a tenth of all infections.

However, with milder strains the fatality rate is closer to one in 100 — similar to when Covid first hit.

The UK cases all had the West African version of the virus, which is mild compared to the Central African strain. 

It is thought that cases in Portugal and Spain also have the milder version, though tests are underway.

How is it tested for? 

It can be difficult to diagnose monkeypox as it is often confused with other infections such as chickenpox.

Monkeypox is confirmed by a clinical assessment by a health professional and a test in the UK's specialist lab - the UKHSA's Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory.

The test involves taking samples from skin lesions, such as part of the scab, fluid from the lesions or pieces of dry crusts. 

What are the symptoms?

It can take up to three weeks for monkeypox-infected patients to develop any of its tell-tale symptoms.

Early signs of the virus include a fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion — meaning it could, theoretically, be mistaken for other common illnesses.

But its most unusual feature is a rash that often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body, commonly the hands and feet.

The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

How long is someone contagious?

An individual is contagious from the point their rash appears until all the scabs have fallen off and there is intact skin underneath.

The scabs may also contain infectious virus material.

The infectious period is thought to last for three weeks but may vary between individuals.

What do I do if I

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