Three cases of monkey pox have been identified in Belgium, all linked to a fetish fashion festival held recently in Antwerp (North), organizers warned on Friday, calling on all those who attended it to be vigilant.
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On its site, the Darklands festival indicated that the three cases confirmed on Friday by the health authorities were “linked to visitors” from the 2022 edition, which took place from May 5 to 8 in the port city.
“There are elements which lead to believe that the virus was brought to the festival by visitors from abroad, where cases have been identified”, underlined the organizers without further details.
Darklands presents itself on its site as a festival offering an "extraordinary" choice of fetish clothing and accessories, also programming evenings for the gay community.
The alert was issued by a group of federal government experts responsible for assessing epidemic risk, who advised organizers to warn visitors. No figures were specified.
In particular, they are advised to watch for any blisters or unusual skin lesions that may appear on their body, and to go to the hospital as soon as possible in order, if necessary, to respect quarantine.
“Monkey pox has an incubation period of 5 to 21 days. Be vigilant during the three weeks following your last close contact,” adds the festival website.
Originally from Africa, monkeypox is usually transmitted to humans in forested areas of this continent by wild rodents or primates.
But human-to-human transmission is also possible, through direct contact with skin lesions or mucous membranes of a sick person, as well as through droplets.
Since mid-May, around 20 cases have been identified in the United Kingdom, at least five in Portugal, two in Canada, one in the United States, one in Italy, one in Sweden and one in France.
According to the Belgian Ministry of Health, this rare viral disease, with generally mild symptoms, presents “a low risk for the general population”.
"Men who have sex with other men, or people who have multiple sex partners, should be especially vigilant," the ministry warned in a statement.