A huge party in the city of Maspalomas on the island of Gran Canaria, which took place between May 5 and 15 and was attended by nearly 80,000 people, has become the second focus of the monkeypox outbreak in Spain, health sources have confirmed. According to these sources, the meeting was attended by several of the positive cases diagnosed in Madrid in recent days, two or three young Italian men whose infection was confirmed in Rome and at least one case investigated on the island itself. The Canary Islands government’s public health services are now investigating the link between these cases and whether other infections have emerged during the 10-day celebrations, including that of a suspected case discovered in Tenerife.
This is the second major focus of the monkeypox outbreak in Spain in recent days. The first is a place called Sauna Paraíso in Madrid’s Malasaña district, which was closed by the Ministry of Health on Friday. The regional adviser, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, linked the facility to “the majority” of cases registered in the community.
According to data released on Friday by the Ministry of Health, 30 samples analyzed by the National Center for Microbiology, corresponding to patients in Madrid, tested positive in the PCR tests that detect the presence of a non-human smallpox virus. This analysis is later completed with genetic sequencing, which must confirm that it is monkeypox, but since no other orthopoxvirus is currently circulating, confirmation by PCR certainly advances the final results.
A Canary Islands government spokesman declined to report the locations where those affected were staying, citing “the ongoing epidemiological investigations”, although he confirmed that one of the Italians had been in the archipelago, and denied knowing this from Tenerife had informed the state of Gran Canaria William Wega.
In addition to the confirmed cases, it had emerged by eight o’clock Friday afternoon that another 15 with symptoms compatible with the disease were being investigated in Madrid, two in the Canary Islands and other communities such as Andalusia, Galicia, Catalonia, Basque Country and Extremadura, respectively one. According to the board of directors, this last community is a woman.
Maspalomas Gay Pride is one of the highlights in the gay community’s calendar and is attended by thousands of people from all over Spain and many European countries every year – except during the forced break caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to health sources, “among the thirty or so people diagnosed in Madrid, several attended the event, although it is not yet known if any of them are patient zero of this outbreak or if they all became infected there.” Research has shown that the virus started circulating in the capital in the second half of April, although most of the infections known to date occurred around the weekend of May 7-8.
The Maspalomas festival is also behind two of the first three confirmed monkeypox diagnoses in Italy. The first of them corresponds to a young man who initially went to a health center in Gran Canaria when he began to develop the symptoms of the disease – high fever, severe pain, a prominent rash … – but who eventually returned by plane to Rome.
All three are licensed at the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome. The center’s director, Francesco Vaia, told a news conference on Friday that “they were hospitalized in Spallanzani with a confirmed infection with the monkeypox virus.” “These are three young men who say they have not had contact with each other, although two of them explain that they recently traveled to the Canary Islands,” he added.
Vaia said the three were in “fairly good condition” and only one had a fever, although they all suffered from “painful enlargement of the lymph nodes and some skin pustules.” Andrea Antinori, director of the Viral Immunodeficiency Unit at the Spallanzani Institute, recalled that monkeypox “is not a sexually transmitted disease, since contagion occurs through close contact, such as occurs during sexual intercourse, but not only in them”. The most common route of infection is through thick drops of saliva or through contact with fluids such as those from the pustules caused by the disease.
The development of monkeypox is favorable in almost all cases from which healthy people suffer. The incubation of the virus usually lasts between 6 and 13 days but can last up to 21 days. Symptoms begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen glands. One to three days later, the rash appears with small blisters that grow, fill with pus, and then crust. When these dry up and fall off, which usually takes one to three weeks, the person is no longer contagious.
In the Canary Islands, the health services have discovered two suspected cases, both young men. One of them lives in Gran Canaria and has links to the Maspalomas party, while the public health services are investigating the one in Tenerife.