25.09.2022

Chicago urges people who have rashes not to attend summer festivals in case they have monkeypox

People who ‘feel sick’ or have rashes should not attend summer parties or festivals in case they have monkeypox, health chiefs in Chicago have warned. 

The city’s Department of Public Health insisted it gave the warning to ensure residents could make ‘informed choices’ about gathering in places where the tropical disease could spread.

Chicago’s monkeypox tally doubled to eight this weekend, with at least one case linked back to the annual fetish festival Mr Leather which took place last month.

It is thought to be the first city to issue the warning, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also warned people who were ill or had rashes to stay away from others earlier this month.

America recorded another seven monkeypox cases yesterday bringing its tally to a total of 72 infections. Four of the new cases were in New York City, while one each was in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. It was not clear where the seventh was recorded.

Globally, more than 1,800 cases of the rash-causing virus have been detected in at least 45 countries outside of West Africa — where it is native.

It comes as the World Health Organization says it will rename the illness because its name is ‘racist and discriminatory towards Africa’.

WHO will rename monkeypox because ‘it’s RACIST and discriminatory towards Africa’

Monkeypox will be renamed following calls for a new ‘non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising’ term, it emerged today.

The World Health Organization (WHO) promised a new name for the rash-causing virus, endemic to Africa, would be announced ‘as soon as possible’.

As well as renaming the actual pathogen itself, strains will likely be lettered, such as A or B, to remove any mention of the parts of Africa where they were first spotted.

Over 30 researchers last week signed a position paper stating there was an ‘urgent need’ to change its name given the current outbreak, which has mainly struck gay and bisexual men.

It has already swept the world to strike 45 countries, including Britain, the US, Spain and Portugal.

They wrote: ‘Continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing.’

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, has confirmed the virus will be renamed.

He said: ‘[The] WHO is working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades, and the disease it causes.

In guidance issued this week, Chicago’s health chiefs said: ‘Individuals attending festivals or other summer events should consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the events.

‘If someone feels sick or has rashes or sores, [we] recommend not attending a gathering and visiting a healthcare provider as soon as possible.’

Dr Allison Arwady, its commissioner, added: ‘While the risk in Chicago remains low, [we] want the public to be able to make informed choices about gathering in spaces or participating in events where monkeypox could be spread through intimate contact.’

Monkeypox primarily spreads through skin-to-skin contact with infectious lesions or sores on infected patients. But in rare cases it can also be passed on through the air when there is ‘sustained’ face-to-face contact.

People can only transmit the virus when they have symptoms, unlike with Covid where people can infect others before they show signs of having the virus.

On Monday, America recorded its biggest day-on-day rise in infections since the outbreak began.

New York City health chiefs are yet to give any details on their new cases to ‘protect individuals privacy’.

In Massachusetts, health officials said their case was in a man who is currently isolating.

They did not say whether the individual was a close contact of another case or had recently returned from abroad.

But on Monday a scientist in the state warned that monkeypox was likely already spreading under the radar in the state.

Pennsylvania also did not release any details about its new case citing ‘privacy’ issues.

One expert has warned the U.S. may already have more than 300 cases of the rash-causing virus, but that these have been missed due to testing problems and because the disease may be being mis-diagnosed as others.

Medical literature says that in the early stages of infection someone may experience flu-like symptoms before developing a rash on the face around three days later.

But the CDC says many patients are experiencing rashes in the genital area and around the anus first.

In some cases, they are also not developing any flu-like symptoms.

Officials are urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of new lesions, rashes or scabs and get in contact with a sexual health clinic

Most cases in America’s outbreak have been detected among gay and bisexual men with links to international travel.

But a growing number are being detected in close contacts of people these individuals mixed with before testing positive.

There are also at least two cases with no links to known cases or international travel which suggests the disease may be spreading under the radar in the country.

It comes as the WHO says it will rename monkeypox with a new ‘non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising’ term ‘as soon as possible’.

As well as renaming the actual pathogen itself, strains will likely also be lettered such as A or B to remove any mention of the parts of Africa where they were first spotted.

Over 30 researchers last week signed a position paper stating there was an ‘urgent need’ to change its name given the current outbreak, which has mainly struck gay and bisexual men.

They wrote: ‘Continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing.’

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, has confirmed the virus will be renamed.

He said: ‘[The] WHO is working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades, and the disease it causes.

‘We will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible.’

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