London – The World Health Organization has scheduled an emergency meeting for next weekTo determine whether the virus should be classified as a threat to international health. The agency is also investigating how the disease is spreading.
CBS News’ Tina Krauss reports that the United Nations health agency is now exploring the possibility that monkeypox may have been sexually transmitted, after the virus was found in the body fluids of patients in Italy and Germany.
Catherine Smallwood, WHO’s event manager for monkeypox in Europe, said some of the cases identified on the continent had “tested semen [the] The virus came back positive, so that’s something we’re looking at.”
The agency has already called the disease – which has infected more than 1,600 people in 35 countries,– Transmitted through close physical contact.
In the UK, a survey of 152 monkeypox patients found that 99% of men identified as having sex with men, according to the UK Health Protection Agency.
Across Europe, most infections have occurred in gay and bisexual men, but James McFadzen, who contracted monkeypox, said it was important not to stigmatize certain communities.
“I think we need to be careful how we label it. It’s not, you know, a ‘gay disease,'” he said. “It’s a tropical, strange disease.”
The WHO is already working with experts to come up with a new name for the virus, and more than 30 international scientists complained that its current moniker is discriminatory.
“In the context of the current global outbreak, the continued reference and naming of this virus as African is not only incorrect, but also discriminatory and stigmatizing,” he wrote.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency would “announce the new names as soon as possible.”
He added that the current “global outbreak of monkeypox is clearly unusual and worrying.”
Europe remains the epicenter of the current outbreak, with about 85% of the world’s infections.
The disease, which was first discovered in African macaques, causes a rash that may resemble chickenpox. The virus originates in wild animals such as rodents, but occasionally jumps to human populations.
Most people recover from the virus within weeks, but in rare cases the disease can be fatal.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travelers protect themselves from monkeypox by wearing a mask, and the WHO has urged people who contract the virus to have sex for 12 weeks after recovery as a precaution. Use condoms during
US officials have said the country has a lotand treatment to respond to any further spread of the virus.