HEALTH authorities in Spain believe a gay sauna in the capital is the source of the outbreak of rare monkeypox virus which has so far affected 30 people.

Madrid’s regional health chief on Friday confirmed that a further 23 monkeypox cases had been confirmed adding to seven who tested positive earlier in the week.

Enrique Ruiz Escudero told reporters on Friday that authorities had been working on tracing the cases mainly from a single outbreak in a Madrid ‘sauna’.

“The Public Health Department will carry out an even more detailed analysis… to control contagion, cut the chains of transmission and try to mitigate the transmission of this virus as much as possible,” he explained.

Another 18 suspected cases are being investigated in Spain, 15 in the Madrid region, two in the Canary Islands and one in Andalucia.

More than 100 cases of the viral infection more common to west and central Africa have so far been reported in Europe including 20 confirmed cases in the UK and 23 in Portugal.

Monkeypox symptoms usually begin with a mix of fever, headaches, muscle aches, backache, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes.

This latter symptom is typically what helps doctors distinguish monkeypox from chickenpox or smallpox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said the virus typically causes death in one in ten cases.

The key feature of monkeypox is a rash of nasty lesions which tend to develop between one to three days after the onset of fever, often starting on the face before spreading across the body.

Although the recent outbreak has affected men mostly involved in sexual relations with other men, it is not defined as a ‘sexually transmitted virus’ and is in no way limited to gay men.

“It’s more that here the close contact during sexual or intimate activity, including prolonged skin-to-skin contact, may be the key factor during transmission,” explained Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton.

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