(Natural News) The World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating reports that the monkeypox virus is present in the semen of patients and is examining the probability that the disease could be sexually transmitted, an official of the world health body said Wednesday, June 15.
Many cases in the ongoing monkeypox outbreak are among sexual partners. During the last few days, scientists said they have discovered viral DNA in the semen of a few monkeypox patients in Italy and Germany.
However, it’s still not known whether the reports meant the monkeypox virus could be sexually transmitted, according to Catherine Smallwood, monkeypox incident manager at WHO Europe.
“This may have been something that we were unaware of in this disease before. We really need to focus on the most frequent mode of transmission, and we clearly see that to be associated with skin-to-skin contact,” Smallwood told a media briefing.
Over 1,300 cases of the viral disease have been reported by about 30 countries since the beginning of May. The majority of the cases have been reported in men who have sex with men.
The epidemic has provoked concern since the virus is seldom seen outside of Africa, where it is endemic, and the most of the European cases are not connected to travel to the continent.
As the epidemic spreads, the WHO has suggested targeted vaccination of close contacts along with healthcare workers, but has warned it is already seeing a surge to store vaccines.
“Once again, a ‘me first’ approach could lead to damaging consequences down the road. I beseech governments to tackle monkeypox without repeating the mistakes of the pandemic and keeping equity at the heart of all we do,” said Hans Kluge, regional director for WHO Europe.
The agency has for the past few weeks warned that the present, disturbing spread of the virus to lots of new countries seemed to be related to men who have had sex with other men.
United Kingdom has highest confirmed cases of monkeypox
That was the case in 99 percent of the 152 monkeypox patients in England, according to Britain’s Health Security Agency. The United Kingdom has the highest confirmed cases with at least 470 overall.
The discovery of viral DNA in the semen of a small number of monkeypox patients in Italy and Germany has dramatically raised the probability that it is really sexually transmitted, according to the newest findings of experts.
The WHO, as a precaution, has told monkeypox patients to use condoms for three months after their recovery.
The agency is also reaching out to Pride event organizers and dating apps to “provide clear information to raise awareness,” Kluge said.
Kluge added that while the majority of cases have been among men who have sex with men, people must remember that the monkeypox virus is not in itself related to any specific group. He referred to the lessons of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, stating that denouncing certain populations weakens the public health response.
He warned that the looming summer tourism, various Pride events, music festivals and other mass gatherings were strong opportunities to interact with young, sexually active and very moving people.
“Monkeypox is not a reason to cancel events, but an opportunity to leverage them to drive our engagement,” Kluge stated. (Related: Pride parades should go on despite monkeypox concerns: WHO)
Organizers of Pride events in cities made up of London, Berlin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Malta and Stockholm have said they will go ahead as planned.
The WHO on Tuesday, June 14, announced it was planning to rename the virus and disease, while also arranging a special meeting to decide if it should be treated as a top-level public health emergency of international concern.
This came after a group of scientists signed a petition paper expressing an “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing” moniker used to recognize the virus.
The group of 29 experts is currently calling it hMPXV and push for a “speedy decision and adoption of a new name.”
The disease was first called monkeypox as it was detected in the lab monkeys in 1958. Although it has been identified in wild monkeys in Africa, rodents are believed to be the cause of infection in humans in endemic regions.
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Watch the video below to know why the WHO wants to rename monkeypox.
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