According to the news agency Reuters on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is investigating reports that the monkeypox virus was found in some patients’ semen.
Scientists have discovered the virus DNA in the semen of a few monkeypox victims in Italy, Germany, and a laboratory-tested sample.
This indicated that the virus discovered in the serum of one patient could infect another person and reproduce.
The WHO reiterated that the virus is transmitted primarily through close interpersonal contact. Most monkeypox cases in Europe, largely due to the current outbreak, are in intimate relationships with their sexual partners.
Catherine Smallwood, WHO/Europe monkeypox incident manager, said it was unclear whether the virus could be transmitted sexually from recent reports.
She said, “This might have been something we weren’t aware of in this disease.” “We need to concentrate on the most common transmission mode, and we see it as skin-to-skin contact.
The presence of viral DNA does NOT necessarily mean that monkeypox has been detected. Diseases like HIV/AIDS and syphilis are transmitted from person to person via pathogens found in blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
Although viral DNA from various viruses has been detected in semen, it is not clear if this genetic material increases the likelihood of sexual transmission.
Europe is the epicenter.
Since May, more than 1,300 cases have been reported in 30 countries, mainly in Europe.
Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Europe director, stated Wednesday that Europe remains the epicenter of this escalating epidemic. He said that 25 countries reported more than 1,500 cases, or 85% of the global total.
This outbreak is concerning because the virus is not common outside of Africa, and most cases are not due to travel to Africa.
Scientists are trying to understand the causes of the current epidemic, their origins, and whether the virus has changed in any way.
WHO described the monkeypox outbreak as “unusual” but said that the virus’ continued spread was alarming enough to summon its expert committee next week to determine if it should be declared a worldwide emergency.
The WHO recommends targeted vaccination for close contacts (including healthcare workers) as the epidemic spreads. However, it has already been warned that there is a rush to stockpile vaccines.
It announced that it was creating a new mechanism for vaccine sharing. This could lead to the UN health agency dispensing low vaccine doses only to wealthy countries that otherwise wouldn’t be able.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said that the agency is working on a “fair access” program for vaccines and treatments. It hopes to have it ready in a matter of weeks.
Some experts believe the initiative could miss the chance to eradicate the monkeypox virus from the African countries infected for many decades.
Experts from Africa questioned why the UN Health Agency had not recommended vaccines for West Africa and central Africa, where the disease is rampant.
“Africa is the best place to begin any vaccination,” Dr. Ahmed Ogwell, acting Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated.
He stated that the lack of vaccines against monkeypox in Africa, which has more than 1,500 suspected cases, and 72 deaths, this year was more concerning than the reports of milder diseases in rich countries.