The head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday advised men at risk of developing monkeypox to consider reducing their sexual partners “for now” after the UN health organization declared escalating outbreaks in multiple countries a global emergency.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 98% of monkey pox cases discovered since the outbreaks in May have been among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
He called on those at risk to take measures to protect themselves.
“That means making safe choices for yourself and others, for men who have sex with men,” Tedros said. “For now, this includes reducing your number of sexual partners.”
Infected persons should isolate and avoid gatherings involving close physical contact, while people should be given contact details of new sexual partners in case they need to be followed up later, the WHO chief said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not suggested that men who have sex with men reduce their sexual partners, only that they avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that could be monkey pox.
WHO officials stressed that monkeypox can infect anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedding.
The UN health agency has warned that the disease could be more serious in vulnerable populations such as children or pregnant women.
To date, more than 19,000 cases have been reported in more than 75 countries; deaths have only been reported in Africa.
“We know very clearly that one of the main avenues of exposure for this particular disease is through direct contact, close contact, skin-to-skin contact, possibly even face-to-face contact, exposure to droplets or a virus that resides in the skin. mouth,” said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s technical lead for monkey pox.
Andy Seale, a WHO adviser on HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, said experts have determined that the current monkeypox outbreak is “clearly transmitted during sex,” but said they have not yet concluded whether it is a sexually transmitted infection.
dr. Hugh Adler, who treats monkeypox patients in the UK, said monkeypox was transmitted during sex and that sexual networks and anonymous sex with untraceable partners facilitated its spread.
“It’s just as likely that monkeypox was always able to transmit and present in this way, but it hadn’t been formally reported or so widespread before,” he said.
Last week, UK authorities issued new guidelines advising doctors that people with just one or two lesions can be contagious with monkeypox, potentially complicating efforts to stop the transmission.
The European Union’s health commissioner on Wednesday urged the bloc’s 27 member states to step up their efforts to tackle outbreaks in the EU, which she called “the epicenter of detected cases”.
In a letter to European health ministers obtained by The Associated Press, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides called for “reinforced, coordinated and coordinated action”.
“There is no time for complacency and we must continue to work together to control the outbreak,” she wrote.