How does the monkeypox virus spread between humans?

How does the monkeypox virus spread between humans?

Dozens of cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed across Europe, North America, and Australia. The disease mainly affects young men who have sex with men, but this does not mean that it is sexually transmitted.

Experts are studying whether this is really a more contagious version of monkeypox or if it has just crept into very tight-knit groups.

Monkeypox spreads, and it spreads much faster than it usually does.

More than 140 confirmed and suspected cases were detected in dozens of countries across Europe, North America, and Oceania this month. The first case was discovered in the UK on May 7, and the number of confirmed cases in that country has rapidly doubled in the past two days, from nine on May 18 to 20 on May 20.

Other cases of monkeypox have recently been confirmed scattered throughout the United States, Australia, Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, and Sweden - the list of countries is growing day by day.

One of the disturbing things that disease experts have noticed with this outbreak is that patients do not have clear connections to each other. Not all have traveled to countries where the disease is endemic, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, or Cameroon. They have not all come into contact with people who have recently traveled to parts of West, and Central Africa rodents like to harbor this virus.

But one thing public health experts have noticed is that most of the affected patients - in fact, all but one of the patients whose gender has been revealed so far - are men.

That doesn't mean we're dealing with a new type of monkeypox that only affects males or is sexually transmitted between men who have sex with men. It's still early for disease researchers to track precisely how genetically these monkeypox cases are and how they can spread from person to person. Currently, experts are divided over whether much weight should be given because most monkeypox patients diagnosed outside Africa recently are men.

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"We urgently need to know" whether this type of monkeypox is spreading in a new way, Professor Jamie Whitworth, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Insider.

Usually, monkeypox is spread from person to person through very close contact. The virus can be picked up on surfaces, from bedding, clothing, or respiratory secretions, but it is straightforward to transmit.

"You can imagine that a woman who lives in the same house, shares utensils, and so on with someone cuddling can have it, but we haven't seen that yet," Whitworth said. "It makes us a little bit suspicious that maybe this is sexual transmission, and we need to find out. Because if that's the case, it's now - we've never seen it before."

One of the monkeypox experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the sexual aspect is the red herring

Epidemiologist Andrea McCollum has been dispatched to investigate monkeypox outbreaks in at least four African countries for years. She hasn't said anything surprising about how the disease is spreading — at least not yet.

This contact could be someone else's saliva or blood or the chickenpox itself - the rashes that people with monkeypox get are incredibly contagious.

"Pus, crusts — all those legions are filled with a belly of the virus," McCollum said. "On the first pass, this appears to be a strain of the virus closely related to what we knew had circulated in West Africa for the past two years."

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