The viral DNA can be detected frequently in different clinical samples from patients infected with monkeypoxincluding saliva there sperm, according to a new study conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). The book, published in the journal Eurosurveillancecontribute to a better understanding of the transmission of this emerging disease.
The epidemic the current monkeypox represents another zoonotic disease who has crossed borders. Over the past six months, there have been reports over 9,000 cases of monkeypox worldwide, in countries where the disease is not endemic.
The first cases were detected in Great Britain, Portugal and Spain, mainly in men who have sex with each other. However, the diseases has spread to many other countries and there are fears that it will spread to vulnerable population groupssuch as immunocompromised patients or children.
Solve the unknowns about the virus
The disease is known to be transmitted by direct contact with the lesions of an infected patient or by surfaces contaminated by them, but little is known about the possible presence of viruses in other biological sampleslike saliva, urinates semen.
In this study, the team led by Michael MartinezISGlobal researcher, and Joseph Louis Blancof the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, investigated presence genetic material of the virus in different biological samples, collected at different times, from 12 patients with confirmed monkeypox infection. At diagnosis, a high viral DNA load was detected in the skin lesions of all patients.
In addition, DNA was detected in saliva of all patients, some of them with high viral loads. Only one previous study had tested saliva, in a single patient. It was also detected DNA viral in rectal (11/12 patients), nasopharyngeal (10/12 patients), semen (7/9 patients), urine (9/12 patients) and faecal (8/12 patients) samples.
The contribution of the new study
“A few previous studies had already shown the occasional presence of viral DNA in some samples and in some patients, but in this study we show the frequent presence of viral DNA in various biological fluidsespecially in the saliva, during the acute phase of the disease, and up to 16 days after the onset of symptoms in a patient,” he explains. Aida Peiroresearcher of ISGlobal and first author of the study.
The authors point out that the presence of viral DNA does not necessarily equate to the presence of infectious virus, and that the next step will be to try to isolate the virus from these samples. However, the high load detected in saliva or semen suggests that these fluids have infectious potential, they add.
“The results of our study contribute to a better understanding on the mechanisms and dynamics of virus transmissionas well as the possible role of sexual transmission,” concludes Martínez.