MONKEYPOX IN BELGIUM | Darklands warns visitors, as gay men are more at risk

Gay fetish and kinks festival Darklands has sent an email to its visitors to warn them for monkeypox, the ‘new’ disease spreading. “The health department of the Belgian government has confirmed three cases of the monkeypox virus linked to visitors at Darklands”, the festival communicates to its visitors.

Darklands.

“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 Risk Assesment Group of the federal government has asked Darklands to inform it’s guest about these infections and share the following information:

  • Monkeypox has an incubation period of 5 to 21 days. Be vigilant during the three weeks after your last close contact.
  • If you notice unusual blisters or injuries, please go to the ER unit of a nearby hospital en mention you suspect Monkeypox.
  • If the suspicion is confirmed, those persons will need to quarantine for three weeks without having sexual contacts.

“Please follow up on this request and look for information and regulations given by the government in your home country.”

Institute of Tropical Medicine 

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp has sent out a press release regarding monkeypox. 

“Three cases of monkeypox have been identified in Belgium, more specifically on Flemish territory. In recent weeks, cases have also been identified in Europe, in particular in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain, mainly in men who have sex with men (MSM), but not exclusively.

“Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that occurs in West Africa and does not spread easily among the population. For transmission, a person must have had close contact with an infected person, including through droplet transmission, or contact with clothing or linens used by an infected person to transmit the infection.”

Institute of Tropical Medecine.

Spread

“Monkeypox can therefore be transmitted through sexual contact. However, the risk to the general population is low.”

“After an incubation period of 5 to 21 days, infected individuals typically go through a period of mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue.”

“Skin rashes may develop, often on the face, but also in the genital area. The rash changes and goes through several stages, from a pimple to a blister, until finally a crust forms.”

“A person is especially contagious during the period when there are skin lesions, but transmission in the days before the symptoms are not excluded. Most people recover within a few weeks.”

“Exceptionally, these symptoms can be more severe. At present, the symptoms reported in Europe are mostly mild in cases, and no deaths have been reported.”

The number of cases in Belgium is closely monitored.

“If you develop a suspicious skin rash, the advice at this point is to contact an emergency department as soon as possible, who may refer you to a hospital with more expertise. As long as monkeypox has not been ruled out or until the infection has cleared, close contact with others should be avoided and no sexual contact is recommended.”

“Men who have sex with other men, or those who have multiple sexual partners, should be especially vigilant”, the ITM says.

Monkeypox PCR tests now at ITM: potentially infected persons can now be traced faster

TheITM received permission from the authorities to work with the monkeypox virus. Thanks to this authorisation, the PCR test can now be performed at the ITM. This allows for faster detection of the monkeypox virus and thus helps to prevent its spread more quickly.

PCR tests are well-known to confirm corona infections, whereby nose and throat samples are taken to detect the virus. To detect the monkeypox virus, doctors take samples of the vesicles and scabs on the skin. The sample then goes to the ITM laboratory where research is carried out to determine the presence of the monkey pox virus.

“Thanks to the PCR test we can very accurately and quickly detect infection with the virus. This allows us to isolate possible new cases quickly in order to minimise further spread”, says Marjan Van Esbroeck, head of the Clinical Reference Laboratory of the ITM.

Do you have a rash that looks like monkey pox? “Make an appointment with our clinic. During consultation, one of the doctors will take a sample which will then be sent to the laboratory. If the result is positive, you will be contacted for further follow-up. It is important that you inform high-risk contacts as soon as possible, including housemates, sex partners and people with whom you had close contact. If they develop symptoms, they should contact a doctor themselves.”

Responsability

It’s easy to point fingers to the gay community and its tendency to party hard and to have multiple sex partners. But in the community, there’s a big sense of responsibility. When an STD or something else is detected, we have the reflex to share that information to previous sexual partners. We do not hide and lie and we do not put our head in the sand.

Darklands 2022-2023

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