A new theory has emerged on how the deadly monkeypox virus is being spread.
The World Health Organisation has confirmed that it’s looking into whether the disease could be sexually transmitted, after the virus was found in the semen of patients.
Scientists have detected viral DNA in a handful of those with monkeypox in Italy and Germany.
They say their results suggest that the virus found in the semen of a single patient is capable of infecting another person and replicating.
More than 1600 cases of the viral disease have now been reported by 39 countries, with Europe at the epicentre.
WHO says many cases in the current outbreak are among sexual partners who have had close contact.
Monkeypox cases visited Western Australia
It comes after Western Australia reported its first brush with Monkeypox.
A person infected with the disease spent four days roaming around Perth last month before they flew back to the UK where they were diagnosed three days later.
Fortunately there have been no secondary cases in WA, with the person’s five close contacts all testing negative.
The Communicable Disease Control Directorate has reassured the public that there was no risk from the visitor.
However, Acting Director Jelena Maticevic says people who travel overseas should be aware of monkeypox and its symptoms.
“Monkeypox does not spread easily among people,” she said.
“It is spread through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.”
So far Monkeypox has only been found in two Australian states with five cases recorded in NSW and three in Victoria.
The United Nations’ health agency will convene an emergency committee on Thursday to determine whether the monkeypox outbreak should be classified as a public health emergency of international concern.
This is the highest level of global alert and currently only applies to the Covid pandemic and polio.
“The magnitude of the outbreak poses a real risk,” Hans Kluge, regional director of the WHO for Europe, said.
“The longer the virus circulates, the more it will extend its reach and the stronger the disease’s foothold will get in non-endemic countries.”
It coincides with a push to rename the virus after 30 scientists flagged concerns about stigma and racism around the discriminatory name.
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