95% of monkeypox cases transmitted through sexual activity: study

95% of monkeypox cases transmitted through sexual activity: study

Many of those infected showed symptoms not previously associated with monkeypox.


Ninety-five percent of monkeypox cases were transmitted through sexual activity, according to the largest study to date, which also noted new clinical signs such as single genital lesions.

The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, came as World Health Organization experts debated whether to classify the outbreak as a global health emergency, the highest alarm it can sound.

Led by scientists at Queen Mary University of London, the new paper looked at 528 confirmed infections in 16 countries, between April 27 and June 24, 2022.

“It is important to emphasize that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection in the traditional sense; it can be contracted through any type of close physical contact,” first author John Thornhill said in a statement.

“However, our work suggests that most transmissions so far have been linked to sexual activity – primarily, but not exclusively, among men who have sex with men,” he added.

“This research study increases our understanding of the modes of spread and the groups in which it spreads, which will facilitate the rapid identification of new cases and allow us to offer prevention strategies.”

Overall, 98% of those infected were gay or bisexual men, 41% had HIV, and the median age was 38.

Their median number of sex partners over the previous three months was five, and about a third were known to have visited on-site sex venues such as sex parties or saunas in the previous month.

Although sexual activity is the cause of most cases, researchers pointed out in a statement that the virus can be spread through any close physical contact, such as respiratory droplets and potentially through clothing and other surfaces.

Many infected people had symptoms not previously associated with monkeypox, including unique genital lesions and sores on the mouth or anus.

These are similar to those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and could lead to misdiagnosis, the authors said.

“The clinical results of this case series were reassuring,” the authors wrote.

“Most cases were mild and self-limiting, and there were no deaths. Although 13% of people were admitted to hospital, no serious complications were reported in the majority of those admitted. “

Monkeypox DNA was present in the semen of 29 of the 32 people tested, but it remains unclear whether this material is capable of transmission.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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