Monkeypox DNA found in semen in handful of cases

Monkeypox DNA found in semen in handful of cases

Monkeypox virus is transmitted through close contact with an infected person, who may shed the virus through their characteristic skin lesions or large respiratory droplets. Many of the confirmed cases of monkeypox in the current epidemic involve sexual partners who have had such close contact.

However, we know that sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV / AIDS, chlamydia and syphilis are caused by pathogens that pass from one person to another, particularly in semen, vaginal secretions or other fluids. bodily.

In a report published on June 2, researchers from the Spallanzani Institute, a Rome-based hospital and infectious disease research center, found the presence of monkeypox virus in semen for the first time. of four patients in Italy.

They have since identified six of the seven patients at the facility whose semen contained the genetic material of the virus. In particular, a lab-tested sample from a single patient suggested that the virus found in his semen was capable of infecting another person and replicating.

These data, which are submitted for publication, are not sufficient to prove that the biological characteristics of the virus have changed, so that its mode of transmission has evolved, said Reuters Francesco Vaia, director general of the institute.

“However … having an infectious virus in the semen is a factor that tips the balance strongly in favor of the hypothesis that sexual transmission is one of the modes of transmission of this virus,” said he said.

Mr Vaia said the World Health Organization had been informed of the latest findings. The UN agency was not immediately available for comment.

These data come as more than 1,300 cases of this viral disease have been reported by around thirty countries, mainly in Europe, since the beginning of May. Most cases have been reported in men who have sex with men.

The outbreak has raised concerns because the virus is rarely seen outside of Africa, where it is endemic, and the majority of cases are not linked to travel to the continent.

Scientists are trying to understand the causes of the current epidemic, its origins and if anything has changed in the virus.

In a separate report published online June 6 at and yet to be reviewed peer review, German scientists have also detected viral DNA in the semen of two patients in the country.

The detection of viral DNA does not necessarily imply the presence of an infectious virus, said Carlos Maluquer de Motes, who leads a research group studying the biology of poxviruses at the University of Surrey.

An analysis carried out by British researchers has revealed that viral DNA from a series of different viruses, including the Zika virus, has been found in semen, but it is not clear whether the presence of genetic material increases the risk of sexual transmission.

Overall, it’s still unclear whether monkeypox is infectious through semen, added Enrico Bucci, a biologist at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“We suspect so and it is very likely that it is. But we lack formal proof that will be available with other experiments in the laboratory.”

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