Six cases of the monkeypox virus were confirmed in Belgium on Tuesday, while one probable case is still awaiting the result of the PCR test.
There were four cases in the country on Sunday, all of whom attended the international fetish festival Darklands in Antwerp earlier this month.
Meanwhile, two more cases and one probable case have been detected. The seven cases concern men who have sex with men, health research agency Sciensano reported.
The agency states that the epidemiological situation is being closely monitored, as the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) is working on recommendations for suspected cases and for contacts of confirmed cases.
Sciensano will provide more information on its website for healthcare providers, while information for the general public can be found on the website of the Agency for Care and Health.
Since early May 2022, cases of monkeypox virus have been reported worldwide, with no link to a trip to one of the endemic countries in West and Central Africa.
Patients diagnosed with the virus are required to spend 21 days in isolation.
Not the next pandemic
Experts say the virus will likely not be the next pandemic, given the fact that monkeypox differs from Covid-19 in several ways.
Besides having more noticeable symptoms and being transmitted slower, there are also existing vaccines and those above the age of 45 are already vaccinated against it.
In addition, the healthcare context in Europe is different than in countries where the virus originated, and it is known that the virus does not have long-term consequences for those who catch it.
However, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned that there is a risk the monkeypox virus could become endemic on the European continent.
‘Viruses do not discriminate’
The ECDC also confirmed that, across the region, human cases are primarily among men who have sex with men. However, during an expert WHO Q&A panel on Monday, it was stressed that this does not make it a “gay disease”.
This was also previously highlighted by a Belgian expert, who pointed out that there is no scientific reason to assume that the transmission of the virus is greater among gay men.
“It is incredible how a virus that is spread through skin contact and that happened to be detected in some gay men is cause for homophobia and derogatory reproaches right away,” Belgian professor Piet Hoebeke said on Twitter. “We are the new bats, apparently. Dumbasses, viruses do not discriminate.”