Grindr has alerted European users to the risk of monkeypox despite experts insisting it's not an STD
Gay dating app Grindr has warned its European users about the outbreak of monkeypox - a virus similar to chickenpox - which has been spreading rapidly through the gay community following two suspected "superspreader" events at fetish festivals in Belgium and the Canary Islands earlier this month.
The message, published in 13 different languages on Wednesday, details some of the symptoms of monkeypox and explains that while it "does not spread easily between people," it "can be passed on through close person-to-person contact or contact with items used by a person who has had monkeypox, such as clothes, bedding or sex toys." Concerned users are advised to contact their local health authorities.
European users were directed to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's monkeypox website, while British users were sent to the UK Health Security Agency. The app is working on a similar message for American users.
The ECDPC has reported a total of 118 confirmed cases within the EU as of Wednesday, and 219 cases total in countries where monkeypox is not considered endemic. "This is the first time that chains of transmission are reported in Europe without known epidemiological links to West or Central Africa," the agency said in its report, as well as the "first cases worldwide reported among [men who have sex with men]."
The agency's report states that most diagnosed cases feature "lesions on the genitalia or peri-genital area, indicating that transmission likely occurred during close physical contact during sexual activities," and the World Health Organization has acknowledged that it is primarily spreading among men who have sex with men. However, the WHO has also insisted monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted disease.
Nor did all Grindr users like being reminded of the latest pandemic on their hookup app of choice, with one quoted in the UK Telegraph calling it a sign of "the end of times."
The apparent efforts to deemphasize the sexually-transmitted nature of the recent outbreak - whether to avoid stigmatizing gay men or whether to promote fear of the disease among the larger population - have only added to the confusion.
While the virus first surfaced in Europe, it has been reported as far afield as the US, Israel, and Australia, with suspected cases observed in Morocco and Argentina. Upon the first confirmed diagnosis of a US case, the Biden administration snapped up $119 million worth of smallpox vaccine Jynneos, which was approved for use against monkeypox in 2019, just a few months before Covid-19 was first diagnosed in China.
While monkeypox has no known cure, it is typically mild and resolves within a few weeks of infection. The disease is characterized by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and sore muscles, eventually transitioning into the appearance of a rash with pustules on the face and body.