Since the global outbreak of the disease in May, infectious disease experts have told the public that the virus is largely transmitting through skin-to-skin contact.  Now, experts are beginning to believe both anal as well as oral intercourse are the main driver in the global spread of monkeypox.

Mixed Opinion

In an Aug. 14 essay on Medium, Dr. Lao-Tzu Allan-Blitz, a resident physician in global health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston reviewed the research and science supporting monkeypox as largely being transmitted by anal and oral intercourse between men and conclude, “It looks very clear to us that this is an infection that is transmitting sexually the vast majority of the time.” 

However, everyone isn’t ready to jump to the same conclusion.  

Dr. Rosamund Lewis, technical lead for monkeypox at the World Health Organization, told NBC News it was “unfortunate but true” that “we don’t know yet” whether the virus is predominantly transmitted through intercourse.

She said any such conclusion is still and overreach. 

Supporting facts/Scientific Data

Here’s some of the studies and data Harard’s Allan-Blitz reviewed.  

  • In a study of 197 monkeypox cases in London men researchers found that 56% had lesions in the genital area and 42% had them in their anorectal regions. 
  • In The New England Journal of Medicine, a global team of researchers pooled 538 monkeypox cases — also all in men — from around the world and found that 73% had lesions in the genital or anorectal areas. 
  • Third, researchers have found monkeypox in semen and have been able to culture that virus, which suggests it could transmit through ejaculation. 

Monkeypox has been diagnosed in 38,019 people in 93 countries during this current global outbreak, according to the CDC. And the WHO reports that among cases with proper data, 97% have been diagnosed in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. hat is exclusive to the group — anal intercourse and oral sex between men.

Historical transmission

Meanwhile, across the global outbreak, the virus is also apparently following the same transmission patterns traditionally seen in Africa. But experts assert that just as in those African nations, when the virus transmits through nonsexual means, it does so with dramatically lower efficiency — and thus at a rate similar to the relatively slow spread seen in Africa.Specifically, the authors of The New England Journal of Medicine paper estimated that just 0.8% of the cases they analyzed were due to nonsexual close contact.

Jacob Martin covered news that focuses on housing and equality issues in Kansas City. Prior to joining our team, he worked as a general assignments reporter with KCUR in Kansas City. A Louisville, Kentucky...