The smallpox virus is found in semen. Is it enough to call it ITS?

Labeling sexually transmitted diseases / infections of monkeypox will lead to stigmatization of a particular community, experts feel

The monkeypox virus can be spread through sexual contact, as indicated by the initial presentation of genital or perianal rashes in many cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. And now, a new study has found the presence of the virus in the seminal fluid.

Reports also showed that the outbreak in several non-endemic countries was prevalent on a particular social network: men having sex with men (MSM) – a boost to the theory of sex transmission.

This route of spread is not characteristic of the pathogen, as is the geographical immensity of the current outbreak, with most cases with no history of travel to endemic countries. The virus usually spreads through close contact with injuries, body fluids, respiratory drops and contaminated materials such as bedding, the United Nations health agency said.

A report published on 2 June 2022 in Eurosurveillance, the European journal on surveillance, epidemiology, prevention and control of infectious diseases, examines the epidemiological, clinical and virological characteristics of four cases of monkeypox in Italy.

Four 30-year-old men, who belong to the MSM community, tested positive for monkeypox after a trip during the first two weeks of May. Three went to a mass meeting on the island of Gran Canaria, while one traveled to work sexually. All four have a history of STIs and two are HIV positive.

As is being observed all over the world, his lesions arose in the anal and genital area. Key findings from this study included the presence of monkeypox virus in seminal fluid.

“While these findings cannot be considered definitive evidence of infectivity, they demonstrate viral spread whose effectiveness in terms of transmission cannot be ruled out,” the authors noted.

While these findings are important, there is not enough evidence to suggest sexual transmission of monkeypox, said David Heymann, former head of the WHO’s emergency department. of sexual transmission. “We need to understand all the different means of transmission. What we are sure of is that the virus is transmitted by physical contact.”

An infection is called an STI when it is transmitted almost exclusively through sexual intercourse. “According to our current understanding, the monkey’s smallpox is not an STI. It is transmitted during sexual intercourse if there are injuries to the genital area,” he explained.

The monkey’s smallpox behaves very differently from how it is understood to spread to African countries where it is endemic, said James O Lloyd-Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. .

He told Down To Earth:

It seems that the virus entered some particular social networks and was successful in spreading through close contacts at parties and, apparently, through sexual contact. As far as is known, this seems to be one of the main drivers of the spread of this outbreak outside Africa. This type of contact has never been identified as an important route of transmission to endemic countries.

Several experts fear that labeling smallpox the sexually transmitted monkey can lead to stigmatization of a particular community. According to them, proper messaging is key, especially in the context of the current Pride Month.

Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, a virologist at Emory University, argued otherwise. He explained on the Twitter microblogging platform:

Writing down an infection A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is not meant to be stigmatizing. It allows people to understand how they might be exposed and potentially infected. It also helps locate partners by notifying them so that they are aware of their exposures to seek treatment.

The disease that spreads through semen, vaginal secretions or skin-to-skin contact is semantic, he added.

Not only is smallpox infecting a particular population, but its symptoms are not the same as those commonly seen in African nations. The general progression of monkeypox symptoms begins with fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes one or two weeks after exposure, followed by a rash a few days later that turns into blister-like lesions and turns in crusts, both last about a day each. .

Healthy tissue usually appears two to four weeks after the onset of symptoms.

What we are witnessing now is a milder presentation of the symptoms that lead to the rash and are therefore often lost, according to a report by the JAMA network.

Another difference is the placement of these lesions, which usually start from the head and extend to the arms and legs. But now the lesions first appear in the genital or perianal region.

However, much remains to be seen. “Are the close, skin-to-skin respiratory secretions spreading during sexual encounters? Or is it really a sexually transmitted infection that is transmitted through body fluids that are exchanged during sex? Amesh Adalja , a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Baltimore Health Security, told Bloomberg.

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