Belgium’s three confirmed cases of monkeypox have been linked to a large-scale fetish festival in the port city of Antwerp, organisers said Friday.
Several European countries have reported cases in recent days, and the World Health Organisation is investigating whether some outbreaks spread within the gay community.
In Belgium, the Darklands Festival warned patrons who attended four days of parties starting on May 5 that Belgian authorities had linked three cases to the event.
So far, Belgium has only publicly confirmed three cases.
“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 festival said on its website.
“The Risk Assessment Group of the federal government has asked Darklands to inform its guests about these infections.”
Darklands is a ticketed event that describes itself as a collaboration of clubs and organisations employing 150 volunteers and hosting daytime commercial events alongside evening parties.
“The various tribes in the gay fetish community (leather, rubber, army, skinhead, puppies…) come together to create a unique spectacle of fetish brotherhood,” the site says.
Monkeypox is not usually fatal but often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person.
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