Updated: Wed, 27 Jul 2022 10:45 PM IST
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday advised men at risk of catching monkeypox to reduce their s*xual partners "for the moment", noting that 98 per cent of the cases since May were detected among gay, bis*xual, and other men who have s*x with men.
"This is an outbreak that can be stopped, if countries, communities, and individuals inform themselves, take the risks seriously, and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing, as reported by news agency ANI.
"The focus for all countries must be engaging and empowering communities of men who have s*x with men to reduce the risk of infection and onward transmission, to provide care for those infected, and to safeguard human rights and dignity," the WHO chief said, adding that the best way to deal with monkeypox "is to reduce the risk of exposure".
Monkeypox, caused by a viral zoonosis virus that transmits from animals to humans, has been reported in over 75 countries - mostly in Europe - since the outbreak broke out this year, affecting over 19,000 and claiming five lives. All five deaths, however, have only been reported in Africa.
The continuous spread of monkeypox cases has forced the top United Nations (UN) health body to declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), its highest alert level. Although multiple WHO experts have said that monkeypox transmits "during s*x", they have not been able to conclude whether it is a s*xually transmitted infection.
"We know very clearly that one of the main modes of exposure for this particular illness is through direct contact, close contact, skin to skin contact, possibly even face to face contact, exposure to droplets or virus that may be in the mouth," Dr Rosamund Lewis, the technical lead for monkeypox of the WHO, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.