NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning that while anyone can be infected with the monkeypox virus, there is an increased risk for men in the gay and bisexual community.
“Awareness of this reality is critical to empowering people to make informed decisions about their personal health and the health of their community,” CDC epidemiologist Dr. John Brooks said in a Monday telebriefing.
Brooks, who is with the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said that while the virus is not a sexually transmitted infection, it can be transmitted in both personal and sexual contact, with a notable fraction of recorded cases occurring among gay men.
Anyone who has a rash or lesions in the genital and perianal regions should be fully evaluated.
“Remember, infectious diseases don’t care about borders or social networks. Some groups may have a greater chance of exposure right now, but by no means is the current risk of exposure to monkeypox exclusively to the gay and bisexual community in the U.S.,” he added.
Dr. David Heymann, who formerly led the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergencies department, told The Associated Press on Monday that the outbreak in Europe appears to have been caused by sexual activity at raves in Spain and Belgium.
The WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries, including the U.S. So far, those cases have been mild and no deaths have been reported.
Traditionally, infections are spread by touching or getting bitten by infected wild animals in western and central Africa, but the United Nations organization noted that the outbreak is a “highly unusual event.”
Nevertheless, WHO officials described the infections as “containable,” cautioning against stigmatizing groups.
Symptoms of the virus – which is from the same family of viruses as smallpox – include fever, chills, rash and aches, before lesions develop.
The majority of patients recover within several weeks without requiring hospitalization.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.