Monkeypox: Detected in saliva, semen and other samples from infected people

Viral DNA can frequently be detected in different clinical samples from patients infected with monkeypox, including saliva and semen, according to a new study conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). The work, published in the journal Eurosurveillance, contributes to a better understanding of how this emerging disease is transmitted.

The current monkeypox epidemic represents another zoonotic disease that has crossed borders. Over the past six months, more than 9,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide, in countries where the disease is not endemic.

The first cases were detected in Britain, Portugal and Spain, mainly in men having sex with each other. However, the disease has spread to many other countries and there are fears that it could spread to vulnerable population groups, such as immunocompromised patients or children.

It is known that the disease is 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 virus in other biological samples, such as saliva. , urine or semen.

In this study, the team led by Mikel Martínez, ISGlobal researcher, and José Luis Blanco, from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, ​​investigated the presence of genetic material of the virus in different biological samples, taken 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. Additionally, DNA was detected in the saliva of all patients, some of whom had high viral loads. Only one previous study had tested saliva, in a single patient. Viral DNA was also detected in rectal (11/12 patients), nasopharyngeal (10/12 patients), semen (7/9 patients), urine (9/12 patients) and fecal (8/12 patients) samples. 12 patients).

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 fluids, in particular in saliva, during the phase acute illness, and up to 16 days after symptoms appear in a patient,” says Aida Peiró, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study. The authors note that the presence of viral DNA does not equate necessarily 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 an infectious potential, add- they.

“The results of our study contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms and dynamics of virus transmission, as well as the possible role of sexual transmission,” concludes Martínez.

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