An international collaboration of 16 countries led by researchers from Queen Mary University of London (UK) has identified new symptoms clinics in people infected with monkeypox. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this disease will become a pandemic.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the largest case series to date, reporting 528 confirmed infections in 43 locations between April 27 and June 24, 2022.
The current spread of the virus disproportionately affects gay and bisexual menwhile he 98% of people infected belong to this group.
Although sexual proximity is the most likely route of transmission in most of these cases, the researchers point out that the virus can be transmitted by close physical contact via large respiratory droplets and potentially through clothing and other surfaces.
Many infected people examined in the study had symptoms not recognized by current medical definitions of monkeypox. These symptoms include single genital lesions and sores in the mouth or anus.
Monkeypox reaches 70 countries
The clinical symptoms are similar to those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and can easily lead to misdiagnosis. In some people, anal and oral symptoms have led to hospitalization for pain and difficulty swallowing.
“Viruses know no borders and infections monkeypox have already been described in 70 countries and more than 13,000 people. This truly global case series allowed doctors from 16 countries to share their vast clinical experience and many clinical photos to help other doctors in places where there are fewer cases. We have shown that current international case definitions need to be expanded to include symptoms not currently included, such as mouth sores, anal mucosal sores and simple ulcers,” said Chloe Orkin, Professor of HIV Medicine at Queen Mary University of London.
Orkin adds that “these specific symptoms can be serious and have led to hospitalizations, so it is important to make a diagnosis. Broadening the case definition will help doctors more easily recognize the infection and thus prevent people from passing it on. Given the global supply constraints for vaccines and antivirals for this neglected and chronically underfunded tropical infection, prevention remains a key tool to limit the global spread of human monkeypox infection.
The study found the monkeypox virus in “a large proportion of semen samples tested from people with monkeypox”. “However, it may be incidental, as we don’t know if it is present at high enough levels to facilitate sexual transmission. it takes more work to better understand it,” the researchers point out.