WILTON MANORS, Fla. – Organizers with a South Florida LGBTQ group say they have no plans to cancel an upcoming Pride festival amid suspected links between the current monkeypox outbreak and gay events and saunas, but they are paying close attention to a rise in cases.
A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that appears to have been caused by sexual activity at two recent raves in Europe.
Two presumptive cases have been identified so far in South Florida, both in Broward County. One case was linked to international travel.
Wilton Manors, which is noted for its large LGBTQ community, is set to play host to annual Pride events in June. Organizers say there are no plans to modify or cancel events at this point, but say they’re paying attention to case counts and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’re keeping a close eye...we’re not changing anything, but we are and we have implemented sanitation stations throughout the festival and parade area,” Stonewall Pride Events Manager Jameer Baptiste said.
Experts say while monkeypox is not transmitted directly through sexual intercourse, it is transmitted through close intimate contact. While the CDC notes that a significant number of cases have been among men who have sex with men, exposure is not limited to the LGBTQ community.
“You have to be with the person infected for a prolonged period of time and very close contact,” Memorial Healthcare Infectious Disease Chief Dr. Paula Eckardt said.
Between an uptick in COVID cases and the recent monkeypox outbreak, Eckardt is encouraging people to stay away from large crowds.
“Be careful with the gatherings and being very, very close together,” she said.
Monkeypox is not considered to be highly contagious, but experts say it can be dangerous. Deaths, however, are uncommon.
Experts also say because monkeypox is similar to smallpox, the same treatments can help fight it.