The director general of the World Health Organization said “men who have sex with men” should limit sexual partners in order to protect themselves from and reduce the spread of the monkeypox, CNBC reported.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that gay and bisexual men also should be “reconsidering … sex with new partners and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow up if needed,” the network noted.
What are the details?
The WHO’s monkeypox expert, Rosamund Lewis, told CNBC that men who have sex with men embody the group with the highest risk of infection at the moment, noting that about 99% of cases are among men, and at least 95% of those patients are men who have sex with men.
Tedros also urged social media platforms, tech companies, and news organizations to battle misinformation about the monkeypox, the network reported.
“The stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus and can fuel the outbreak, as we have seen with Covid-19 misinformation,” Tedros added, according to CBNC, noting that misinformation “can spread rapidly online.”
In that vein, New York City’s health department is demanding the WHO rename the monkeypox virus due to the moniker’s “devastating and stigmatizing effects.” Tedros announced last month the WHO would rename the monkeypox virus over concerns the label is racist, but the group hasn’t yet done so.
So far, over 18,000 monkeypox cases have been reported across 78 nations, the network said, citing WHO data, adding that five deaths have been reported in Africa. Over the weekend the WHO declared the monkeypox an international global health emergency.
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Europe is the currently the epicenter of the global outbreak, reporting more than 70% of monkeypox cases. About 25% of monkeypox cases have been reported in the Americas, with the U.S. the center of the outbreak in the Western Hemisphere, according to WHO and CDC data.
The U.S. has reported more than 3,500 cases of monkeypox across 46 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. has the second-highest number of monkeypox cases in the world, after Spain.
Monkeypox is primarily spreading through skin-to-skin contact during sex, WHO and CDC scientists have said. Lewis said the virus will have an opportunity to spread more widely if people do not take precautions by limiting the number of sex partners and anonymous sexual contact.
The network said that while the monkeypox is primarily spreading during sex, anyone can catch the virus through close physical contact — which includes hugging and kissing within a family as well as sharing contaminated towels and bedding. CNBC said women and children have caught the virus during the current outbreak, though those numbers are low.
Monkeypox also can spread through respiratory droplets when infected individuals have lesions in their mouths, the network said, although such scenarios require prolonged face-to-face interaction.
Most infected individuals are recovering in two to four weeks, CNBC said, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Monkeypox has been noted to start with flu-like symptoms and then progress to a rash that can spread over the body that can be very painful, the network said.