MONKEYPOX cases in Spain and Italy have been traced to an island festival attended by 80,000 revellers.
Authorities are trying to halt an outbreak that has exploded across Europe and beyond, with 92 cases now confirmed and dozens more suspected.
And doctors warned that number will rise significantly as the virus spreads througfh Europe and as far as the US, Canada and Australia.
Spain now has the highest number of infections, outside places in Africa where the virus is endemic, with more than 50 known cases.
Now authorities are investigating a festival in Gran Canaria after it was linked with a number of cases in Madrid, Tenerife and Italy.
The Canaria Pride festival, held in the town of Maspalomas between May 5 and 15, has become a hotspot for the monkeypox outbreak, reports El País.
The massive party was attended by over 80,000 people, including three Italian men who later tested positive for the virus.
A health source told the newspaper: “Among the 30 or so diagnosed in Madrid, there are several who attended the event, although it is not yet possible to know if one of them is patient zero of this outbreak or if they all got infected there.”
Public health services are currently investigating whether there have been more infections during the celebrations including a suspected case detected in Tenerife.
The three Italians were admitted to the Spallanzani Institute of Infectious Diseases in Rome.
The centre’s director, Francesco Vaia said: “These are three young men who say they have not had contact with each other, although two of them do explain that they have recently travelled to the Canary Islands.”
Experts have warned that although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease it could be passed on through skin-to-skin contact during sex.
Many known patients are gay men who were tested after going to STI clinics, the WHO said.
Health chiefs warned gay and bisexual men to be on the lookout for new unexplained rashes.
Spain also has another monkeypox infection hotspot named Sauna Paraíso, in the Malasaña neighbourhood of Madrid.
The sauna was closed on Friday by the Ministry of Health.
A number of other communities followed reporting more cases, including Andalusia, Galicia, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Extremadura.
SPREAD ACROSS THE WORLD
Health officials in New York are investigating a potential case of monkeypox after a patient tested positive for the family of viruses associated with the rare illness, state health officials announced late Friday.
The unidentified patient is isolated and treated the case as positive while awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New York City public health officials said earlier they were investigating two potential cases of monkeypox.
One of the cases was ruled out while the second one was positive for orthopoxvirus and had an illness consistent with monkeypox, the department said.
Meanwhile, Norway has begun searching for possible cases of monkeypox in the capital Oslo, the country’s Institute of Public Health said on Saturday.
“A foreigner who visited Oslo from May 6-10 has, after returning home, been confirmed to have been infected,” FHI said.
Swiss health officials have also reported the country’s first case of monkeypox in a person living in the canton of Bern.
Bern’s health authority said the patient had been treated as a walk-in case and was now isolated at home. Everyone who had come into contact with him had been informed, it added in a statement.
“As far as we know, the person concerned was exposed to the virus abroad,” the statement added.
Israel on Saturday reported its first confirmed case of monkeypox, a man in his 30s who had returned from a trip in western Europe, according to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center – Ichilov, where he is quarantined and in mild condition.