STI: WHO investigates reports of monkeypox in semen – symptoms

Monkeypox: UK patient discusses his symptoms

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As the UK, United States, and the rest of Europe grapples with monkeypox, the WHO (World Health Organisation) is investigating whether to rename and recategorise the disease.

Currently, monkeypox is considered a viral infection.

However, in the near future it could also be categorised as a sexual transmitted disease (STI).

The WHO is investigating reports of the monkeypox virus in sexually active men, the group most likely to have the condition.

Scientists in recent days have reported viral DNA in the semen of a select few monkeypox patients in Italy and Germany.

They found the semen of a single patient could be capable of infecting others and replicating.

Despite these findings, the WHO say this does not mean monkeypox is an STI.

Monkeypox incident manager for WHO/Europe Catherine Smallwood said: “This may have been something that we were unaware of in this disease before.”

Smallwood added: “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.”

So far, 1,300 cases of monkeypox cases have been found in around 30 countries.

Over a third of these cases have been reported in the UK, with 574 cases confirmed.

As in the rest of the countries affected, those most at risk of developing the condition are sexually active young men.

Incident Director at the UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) Dr William Welfare said: “As case numbers of monkeypox continue to rise and with many summer events and festivals ahead, we’re reminding people to be aware of the symptoms of monkeypox, particularly if you’ve recently had new or multiple sexual partners, to help prevent further spread and protect others.

“If you have a rash with blisters, or any other monkeypox symptoms, don’t go to events, meet with friends, or have sexual contact.”

Symptoms of monkeypox include:
• A rash
• High temperature
• Muscle aches
• Backache
• Swollen glands
• Shivering
• Exhaustion.

Dr Welfare added: “Instead, stay at home and contact 111 or your local sexual health service for advice.

“UKHSA is working closely with partners across the country, including event organisers and venues, to raise public awareness of monkeypox symptoms so everyone has a safe, happy and healthy summer.”

Although Dr Welfare refers to the virus as monkeypox, in future it may be referred to as hMPXV instead as the WHO said it needed a “non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising” title.

The scientists who came up with the potential new name said references to the virus being African was “not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatising”.

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