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Monkeypox: an expert explains what gay and bisexual men need to know

How it spreads and how to protect yourself.

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Monkeypox is from the same virus family as smallpox. Kateryna Kon/ Shutterstock

Since early May, more than 23,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide. This is the largest ever global outbreak of the disease.

Cases have now been reported in 78 countries including the UK, Spain, Germany, France, the US and Brazil. Given the scale of the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared the current monkeypox epidemic a global health emergency.

While anyone can get monkeypox, the current outbreak is overwhelmingly affecting sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. In fact, our recent study which looked at 528 monkeypox infections since the start of the outbreak found that 98% of these infections had occurred in this group. Here’s what these men need to know.

How it spreads

Monkeypox is a disease caused by infection with the human monkeypox virus, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox. In fact, symptoms are quite similar to smallpox and include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, cold symptoms (such as a cough or sore throat).

Symptoms are also accompanied by a rash that appears in blisters on the face, genitals, the chest and back, and on the hands and feet. Some people also experience very painful sores in the mouth or inside the bottom. For most people, the disease usually resolves within two to three weeks.

Monkeypox spreads through close physical contact with an infected person. Typically this means skin-to-skin contact, especially contact with the rashes and skin lesions caused by the disease. But it can also be spread through large respiratory droplets (such as coughing and sneezing).

It can also spread through contact with bed sheets, towels or other fabrics that have come in contact with the infected person’s sores. We know that the virus can persist on surfaces for a long time – sometimes up to several weeks.

According to our study, 95% of monkeypox infections so far were spread as a result of sexual contact. Around 95% of the people in our study had a rash, mostly occurring on the genitals. Approximately 41% had sores inside the body (including in the anus or mouth).

Our research also revealed that the monkeypox virus was found in more than 90% of the semen samples we tested. However, we don’t yet know whether the virus is infectious in semen.

All this may explain why the virus is primarily spreading through networks of men who have sex with men.

A young man receives a vaccine from a healthcare worker. The worker is wearing white surgical gloves to administer the needle.
Many countries are now offering this at-risk groups vaccines to protect them. Africa Studio/ Shutterstock

It’s worth stressing the virus can spread through any contact with lesions or large respiratory droplets from an infected person. This means that it can spread in households through any close personal contact with an infected person – not just as a result of sexual intimacy. However, during the current outbreak, our study suggests that this kind of non-sexual transmission has so far occurred very rarely, in less than 1% of cases.

Providing protection

Many countries are offering vaccinations to sexually active gay and bisexual men who are at greatest risk of contracting the disease. Used prior to exposure, research suggests the vaccine can provide around 85% protection from infection. If given between four and 14 days after exposure to monkeypox, the vaccine may potentially reduce symptoms of the disease.

The WHO has also recommended that at-risk groups limit how many sexual partners they have and take steps to protect themselves from contact. However, recommending abstinence really doesn’t go far enough, especially given we already have a vaccine which can prevent monkeypox. This is why getting vaccinated (and making sure that everyone has equal access to these vaccines) is of such great importance.

Given that the epidemic at this time is affecting almost exclusively men who have sex with men, directing accurate and relevant public health messages and working together with the community to develop acceptable interventions is what’s needed to help prevent harm and further spread.

One of the difficulties is that gay and bisexual men represent a marginalised community that has already faced stigmatisation and discrimination, particularly during the HIV/Aids pandemic. Nobody wants to repeat that.

But public health messages are most effective when targeted at people who are most at risk of a particular condition. Some even argue that messaging hasn’t been targeted enough during this outbreak.

Although public health agencies such as the WHO, CDC, ECDC and UKHSA have already done a lot to provide clear, non-stigmatising guidance to at-risk groups, it may be important ensure this information is now disseminated in places where they will have the greatest impact – such as on dating apps, for example.

There’s a small window to contain the spread of monkeypox – and it may have already closed. There are already reports of infections in both women and children. But the fact that the disease still seems to primarily be occurring in one group means that, with the right interventions, the course of the outbreak could still be changed and that group protected.

The most important thing now is ensuring all countries have equal access to vaccines and treatment to protect against the further spread of infections. The declaration of a worldwide pandemic by the WHO will hopefully serve to co-ordinate the global response and open up the possibility of mass production of several vaccines with access for all. The question is whether it will be fast enough.

Chloe Orkin receives funding from Gilead Sciences, Viiv Healthcare, Astra Zeneca, Merck Sharpe and Dohme and Janssen for advisory boards, lectureships, travel scholarships and I have also received research grants from the same companies to my institution.

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Carnival Cruise Line enforces a key main dining room rule

Cruisers love to debate every aspect of eating in the main dining room, but Carnival has drawn a line in the sand on one key issue.

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For most people on a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC, or Norwegian  (NCLH) - Get Free Report cruise the main dining room serves as a gathering and reset point. 

During the day families and friends may go off in different directions, but on most nights they gather in the main dining room for a multicourse dinner experience that generally takes about 90 minutes.

Cruise lines have more small tables, so in many cases you're not sitting with strangers as often as you would have been in the past, but dinners in the main dining room remain an important part of cruising. 

Dinner brings everyone on a trip together and creates shared memories even when days are spent in different places.

Related: Carnival Cruise Line CEO openly talks about adding unpopular fee

The main dining room , of course, is not the only option. You can opt for specialty dining or the buffet, or you can just grab a pizza. Still, with the capacity to serve the entire ship across multiple seatings, the main dining room dinners remain a crucial part of the cruise experience on Carnival, Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Free Report, MSC, and Norwegian sailings.

Cruisers, of course, love to debate any changes and rules that are enforced or not enforced in the main dining room. Thousands of social-media posts argue how and whether each cruise line enforces its dress code, with some people wanting to wear shorts, hats or flip-flops while others lament that passengers no longer wear tuxedos on formal nights.

Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) - Get Free Report Brand Ambassador John Heald recently touched off a debate, however, when he outlined on his Facebook page one rule that Carnival does enforce.

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Dinner in a cruise ship main dining room is an elaborate affair.

Image source: Nora Tam/South China Morning Post via Getty

Don't be late for your Carnival main dining room time

Heald spends most days answering questions from Carnival's customers. Sometimes he shares notes that have been sent to him and solicits public response.

BOOK YOUR CRUISE NOW: Plan a dream cruise vacation at the best possible price.

In this case, he shared what happened to one family when it arrived 40 minutes late to its designated meal time. 

On our recent Pride cruise from Rome, we had a table of 10. After long days in port, we did not always make it on time for early seating and came into the main dining room at intervals. This really threw our servers off and therefore, OUR service suffered. One evening, we were all 40 minutes late That is all.. The restaurant manager told us we had to eat at the buffet or come back to see if there was a table available at the late seating.

Carnival, like most cruise lines, offers early and late seatings as well as "anytime" dining options. People who have a specific seating will eat at the same table every night, while people with flexible time seating will eat in a different dining room.

The family that arrived late shared more info with Heald.

That is not acceptable with teenagers. If Carnival puts a cruise together with long stays in ports then expect many to be late. We were punished for being 30 mins late. Unacceptable !!! You are monsters!

Carnival's brand ambassador tried to be understanding but also backed the main dining room management's decision.

I also understand as a parent myself that getting a family ready for dinner on time is not easy, especially after a long day in port. However, the waiter has not just this table to serve but others and moving back to serving appetisers while everyone else is about to be served their main course really can cause a massive dollop of stress for the waiter. If perhaps they had Your Time Dinning or late seating it might have been manageable but early seating, nope, I support what the Maitre D did by asking them to use the Lido or come back later for a table

Heald also posted a poll asking his followers to vote on whether directing guests who were 40 minutes late to their seating to the buffet was a correct choice. 

His followers overwhelmingly agreed with the cruise line: 97% agreed with the decision and 3% said the cruise line should have tried to accommodate the family. 

SAVE MONEY ON YOUR CRUISE: Let our travel experts get you booked and sailing.

A comment from Pam Miller Downey seemed to illustrate how most people felt about the issue.

"They were late...that means not on time..that means they eat somewhere else. Most people who are 40 minutes late wouldn't even dream of going to the MDR. They would automatially go to Lido or one of the other eateries," she wrote.

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Undeniable Toxic Ingredients In HPV Vaccines

Undeniable Toxic Ingredients In HPV Vaccines

Authored by Yuhong Dong via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

In the series, "The HPV Vaccine:…

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Undeniable Toxic Ingredients In HPV Vaccines

Authored by Yuhong Dong via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

In the series, "The HPV Vaccine: A Double-Edged Sword?" we will provide documented evidence of death and severe injuries linked with Gardasil, analyze the root cause of its harm, and offer solutions.

The Gardasil vaccine is linked to undeniable death and undeniable severe injuries as previously reported in this series of reports. An ingredient in Gardasil may contribute to these harms.

Let's shift the lens to the beautiful Pyrenees in Europe where sheep were cherished for their wool, nourishment, and companionship. However, a mysterious sheep illness occurred around a decade ago.

Mysterious Post-Vaccine Sheep Illness

In August 2006, an outbreak of bluetongue disease quickly spread to European countries causing a state of emergency.

Bluetongue disease, caused by bluetongue virus (BTV), affects ruminants, mainly sheep, with symptoms of fever, hemorrhages, depression, edemas, and generalized cyanosis, easily observed on the tongue, which explains the disease name.

The totally unexpected outbreak caused by a newly emerged BTV serotype led to a massive compulsory European vaccination campaign implemented between 2007 and 2010. The administered vaccine contained a new ingredient not used in previous BTV vaccines—aluminum (Al)—with 2.08 milligrams per milliliter as the adjuvant, in addition to inactivated BTV.

Bluetongue vaccination campaign administered in a sheep farm in Normandy, France, 2008. (Leitenberger Photography/Shutterstock)

The campaign seemed to effectively halt viral spreading, however, during the same vaccination period, a series of previously unreported severe diseases emerged in France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, and Spain, featuring weakness and various neurological symptoms. Veterinarians were stumped, as no known disease explained the tragedy.

Sheep Study Identifies the Problem

Dr. Lluis Lujan, an associate professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Zaragoza in Spain, conducted a sheep study to determine the cause of the unusual diseases.

A total of 21 sheep were assigned into three groups (red, yellow, and green) with seven in each group as follows:

  1. The red group received commercial sheep vaccines containing aluminum hydroxide.
  2. The yellow group received the equivalent dose of aluminum dissolved in water (Alhydrogel®, an aluminum-based adjuvant).
  3. The green group was administered a neutral saltwater solution.

Surprisingly, both the animals from the red and yellow groups became significantly more aggressive and showed more stereotypes and higher stress.

Sheep from the red and yellow groups became significantly more aggressive. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

The detected level of aluminum found in the lymph nodes in the lumbar spinal cord was much higher in both the aluminum-only (yellow) and the vaccine group (red) compared with the control group, indicating that aluminum created an extra burden needing to be processed by the sheep.

This explained the phenomenon that the sheep illness occurred only after the aluminum was added to the vaccine as an adjuvant. "So for me, yes—the reason why the animals get sick after vaccination is how the body deals with aluminum," Dr. Lujan stated in a documentary film "Under the Skin," available on Epoch TV.

The idea is not only about sheep. We are looking for something that could be happening in humans.

'Placebo' Trial Participant Had 40+ Symptoms

The Phase 3 clinical trial for Gardasil (FUTURE II study) began in 2002. A particularly large number of participants were recruited in Denmark.

Gardasil clinical trial participant, Sesilje Petersen, developed severe fatigue and a total of 40 symptoms after the second and third shots.

"It was the biggest problem because I was a student at the university and it was very difficult for me to attend the classes as I fell asleep almost daily," Sesilje said. "I wrote a list with all my symptoms—there were more than 40 symptoms, and some of them had been severe. I had a tumor on my pituitary gland."

"I received a letter and was invited to this study and it sounded very interesting. So I decided to participate," recalled Sesilje.

Sesilje kept the information brochure that the participants received at the beginning of the study. It said that the vaccination had already been carefully tested for safety and did not have any serious side effects.

The information about the placebo turned out to be a lie. "It says here that the placebo was saline—the Danish word for saltwater," she said.

Aluminum: A Toxin in Vaccines for 90 Years

Sesilje's "saline" placebo contained something highly unusual—aluminum (Al), an adjuvant commonly used in modern vaccines.

She was obviously misinformed about the study design and was unaware of what she was receiving. Prior to participating in the Gardasil study, Sesilje knew that she could not tolerate deodorants containing aluminum.

"We were not informed about the use of aluminum. The word aluminum was not given to us either in the procedure or in their phone consent form." Sesilje said.

In fact, a study by Doshi et al. found that participants in the Gardasil trials were not adequately informed that the placebo was amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate (AAHS). The trial participants were told they could receive a "placebo" without being informed of noninert ingredients (AAHS). This raises serious ethical concerns about the trial conduct.

Aluminum was first used in human vaccines in 1932 and was the only adjuvant used in licensed vaccines for approximately 70 years. This controversial compound is still used as an adjuvant in vaccines, however, what is its actual role?

Aluminum is the third most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and is widely present in the environment—in plants, soil, water, air, food, and pharmaceuticals. It is present in an ionic form as Al3+.

The absorption of aluminum depends on several factors such as the pH level and the presence of organic acids (citrate, lactate).  It is absorbed in a proportion of only 0.1 to 0.3 percent by the gastrointestinal tract in the upper intestine.

However, when aluminum is injected into our muscles in the formulation of a vaccine, it is nearly 100 percent absorbed. It then travels and crosses the blood-brain barrier and accumulates in our brain and other organs.

Aluminum is especially harmful to our brain and nerves, as it plays multiple roles in the clumping of harmful substances (β-amyloid, tau protein) in the brain, leads to the death of brain-protective cells called astrocytes, and disrupts the "protective wall" around the brain resulting in more vulnerability to harmful substances.

Christopher Exley, an English professor of bioinorganic chemistry, is one of the most knowledgeable and widely-cited aluminum researchers in the world, with over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers published on aluminum and over 12,000 citations.

Renal failure patients dialyzed have developed encephalitis linked to excessive brain buildup of aluminum. Those who passed away had a tenfold higher level of aluminum in gray matter, leading to fatal brain diseases in 30 to 50 percent of cases. Their brain symptoms were correlated with their blood aluminum levels, including issues of speech, coordination, cognition, and fatal seizures.

As a potent toxin, aluminum can severely harm multiple human body systems. Aluminum's toxic effects on our nerves, lungs, muscles, gut, kidneys, and liver have been well documented.

Dietary absorbed ionic aluminum can leave our body through the kidneys, however, most antigen-aluminum mixtures in vaccines are too large for the kidneys to expel out of our body. Accordingly, vaccine aluminum exposure poses a much higher safety risk than dietary aluminum.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a placebo is defined as "an inactive pill, liquid, or powder that has no treatment value." The well-established toxic properties of aluminum therefore suggest that aluminum cannot constitute a valid placebo.

Toxicity Makes Aluminum an Adjuvant

Almost all modern diseases have their origin in a disturbed immune system. No other drug intervenes in the immune system as intensively as vaccines. The role of vaccine components in human immunity is discussed without taboos in the scientific community.

The gold standard to evaluate the effectiveness of a vaccine is based on the antibody level generated. In the beginning, people were not satisfied with a pure inactivated virus to provoke an immune response and wanted to find a substance to help boost immunity and generate a more robust response with longer-sustained antibodies—that is the adjuvant.

Aluminum was found to be a strong adjuvant.

According to Mr. Exley, "The known toxicity of aluminum is almost certainly a contributor to the success of aluminum-based salts as adjuvants."

A 2016 Nature study provided insight into the cellular toxicity induced by aluminum used as an adjuvant in clinically-approved human vaccinations.

When we inject a vaccine with aluminum into the muscle, we can only imagine what physical and chemical reactions will be triggered. At the very beginning, there may be little response at the injection site. The only reaction may be due to the damage caused by the needle.

"When the vaccine is injected deeply into the muscle tissue, aluminum ions begin to dissolve and start attacking the surrounding cells," Mr. Exley stated in the documentary "Under the Skin."

"So depending upon that rate of dissolution, you will get the degree of cytotoxicity—cell toxicity," he said.

The aluminum ions kill our normal healthy cells and as those cells die, they release chemical messengers, which call for help from the other immune cells.

Immune cells react immediately and start to attack anything suspicious at the vaccination site. A fierce battle takes place.

It is only in the course of this inflammation triggered by aluminum that the silent antigens are now also taken seriously and are transported away by specialized immune cells. Those silent viral proteins are also identified by immune cells as enemies and specific antibodies are produced to bind them.

Dr. Lluis Lujan in the "Under the Skin" HPV documentary. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times, courtesy of Ehgartner & Moll Filmproduktion GmbH & Co.)
Tyler Durden Sat, 10/14/2023 - 08:10

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This new McDonald’s China menu item is a meat lover’s dream

The fast-food giant has delivered a new sandwich, and you might want to ask your doctor about it before you eat it.

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While the Big Mac has the word "big" in it, McDonald's hasn't really staked a major claim as the fast-food chain for people looking for the meatiest sandwiches.

Arguably, at least in the U.S., Burger King and Wendy's (WEN) - Get Free Report have stronger claims to that dubious title. 

Wendy's, for example, has the Dave's Triple and the Big Bacon Classic Triple on its menu while it also lets customers order a burger with a total of four hamburger patties if they so choose.

The menu at Restaurant Brands International's  (QSR) - Get Free Report Burger King features a Triple Whopper, which actually contains fewer calories (1,170) than the two-patty Bacon King. Burger King will also sell you a four-patty burger, but you have to make that order in person, not through the chain's app or website.

Wendy's does not appear to limit how many patties you can add to your sandwich, at least when you order through Uber Eats. In theory, if you want 25, or maybe 50, burger patties on your Baconator, the chain will allow it — although at some point wrapping the burger will become a problem.

For its part, McDonald's features a triple cheeseburger on its regular menu, but that's made from three regular-size (1.6-ounce or 45-gram) patties. The biggest item by meat weight is the Double Quarter Pounder, which offers a full half-pound of beef. 

Like its rivals, MCD (probably) will sell you more burger patties if you ask at its counter. It allows extra patty sales through its app on some sandwiches, but not others. The chain also maxes out at three patties (although customers could likely order more in-person as there does not appear to be a policy preventing that). 

All these burgers, however, pale in comparison to a massive sandwich the chain has been selling in China.

A regular Big Mac seems modest compared to some hamburgers.

Image source: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

McDonald's builds a bigger Mac

McDonald's locations around the world — especially in Japan and China — seem to equate the American brand with massive burgers. A new burger from the chain's locations in China sets a new standard when it comes to massive sandwiches, although the burger patties do get some help/

"McDonald's China's Bu Su Zhi Ba Double Layer Beef Burger is a mouthful of meat that puts U.S. patties to shame. True to its name, which translates to German Sausage Double Beef Burger, this item packs two burger patties and two sausages between its buns. This gives customers a protein-heavy dish, with little more than a layer of mustard to round it out — it doesn't contain any of the more traditional McDonald's toppings like lettuce, tomato, or pickles," Mashed shared.

The fast-food giant has never offered sausages in its U.S. restaurants and it has only sold hot dogs on a very limited basis in the U.S. McDonald's founder was famously against the chain selling hot dogs because people would not know what was inside them.

China shows McDonald's the way

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski actually visited some of his chain's locations in China this year. He talked about what he learned during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

"Visiting China truly brought to life the power of a highly digitized economy and our potential for global growth moving forward. With about 90% of our business currently coming through digital channels in that market, it was remarkable to see how the market has forged digital relationships with customers," he said.

Kempczinski was also impressed with other aspects of the company's operations in China.

"China is also making tremendous progress in running the restaurants more efficiently, all with the use of data and technology. This will provide great learnings for the rest of our system," he added.

The chain is also innovating in the delivery space in the market.

"Another recent example of innovation I was able to see firsthand during my visit to China is the use of food lockers at busy locations with high in-store traffic. Upon arrival, delivery couriers can quickly unlock the designated locker and grab the customer's order without even entering the restaurant, removing friction for both the kitchen and the courier," Kempczinski said.

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