With monkeypox spreading in Europe, and many cases reported among sexually active men, there is much speculation about whether the disease, which has been in Africa for a while, has mutated into a sexually transmitted disease. Here’s what we know:
Even when the World Health Organization called an emergency meeting on the spread of the disease, it said the early cases were unusual for three reasons: All but one had no relevant travel history to areas where monkeypox is endemic. Most are detected through sexual health services and among men who have sex with men, and the wide geographical spread throughout Europe and beyond suggests that transmission may have been ongoing for some time.
Most cases are between gay and bisexual men
In Britain, where 20 cases have been confirmed so far, the UK’s Health Security Agency said the latest cases in the country were mostly among men who identified themselves as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
The previous number of 14 cases detected in sexual health clinics were men between the ages of 20 and 40 who identified themselves as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
The UK’s Health Security Agency has advised gay and bisexual males to be aware of rashes or strange lesions and seek medical help as soon as possible.
Has the disease turned into a sexually transmitted disease?
Italy’s Lazio region health commissioner, Alessio D’Amato, said it was too early to say whether the disease had turned into a sexually transmitted disease. Reuters. Three cases have been reported so far in the country.
“I think the idea that there is some kind of sexual transmission in this is a bit of a stretch,” said Stuart Neal, professor of virology at King’s College London.
The World Health Organization said scientists are sequencing the virus from different states to see if they are linked. The agency is expected to provide an update soon.
WHO expert says disease may ‘spread for a while’
“As we enter the summer season … with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate,” said WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge.
“All but one of the recent cases had no relevant travel history to monkeypox endemic areas,” he added.
The health official warned that transmission could be boosted by the fact that “the cases currently detected are among those engaged in sexual activity”, and many do not recognize the symptoms.
Most of the initial cases of the disease were among men who had sex with men and sought treatment at sexual health clinics, Kluge said, adding that “this indicates that transmission may have been ongoing for some time.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was investigating the fact that many of the reported cases were of gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
The official’s statement came as France, Belgium and Germany reported their first cases of monkeypox, and Italy confirmed it now had three cases linked to the disease.
Darklands festival organizers said three confirmed cases of monkeypox in Belgium were linked on Friday to a large-scale fetish festival in the coastal city of Antwerp.
French authorities said the virus had infected a 29-year-old man who lived in the area that includes Paris.
In Spain, the Ministry of Health has reported seven confirmed cases, and said it was waiting for confirmation for another 23. But a regional health official said authorities had recorded 21 confirmed cases in the Madrid region, most of them linked to a gay-friendly sauna in the heart of the capital.
‘Concerned about the effects on other sexual infections’
Clinic staff already have to self-isolate if they come into contact with an infected patient. The BBC reported that sexual health clinics in London, where the majority of the UK’s 20 cases had been detected, had denied people entry.
The British Society for Sexual Health and HIV expressed concern about the impact on other infections in a statement.
When someone comes into close contact with an infected person, monkeypox can spread. The virus can enter the body through broken skin, eyes, nose, and mouth. Although it is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection, it can be transmitted through physical touch during sex.
Since recent events in the UK have been for gay or bisexual males, the UK’s Health Security Agency has advised men who have sex with men to be wary of any strange rashes or lesions.
Dr Claire Deusnap, a genitourinary specialist and chair of the British Society for Sexual Health and HIV, said staff in sexual health clinics were “already under tremendous pressure” and monkeypox was exacerbating the problem.
“It’s already putting pressure on the workforce, and it would have a huge impact if staff had to isolate if they were in close contact with an infected person,” Dr. Deusnap said.
“I am concerned about the impact on access to sexual health in general.”
Before an appointment can be scheduled, clinics in London are asking all patients to contact staff in advance and describe their symptoms. This is done to keep people with symptoms of monkeypox out of waiting rooms and clinics where others are.
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