Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease–DOH

New research published by the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that 95 percent of monkeypox cases have been transmitted through sexual activity.

However, Department of Health (DOH) Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire was quick to correct the misinformation circulating in social media that monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

“It is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease. While the monkeypox virus has evolved, it is possible that this can be transmitted through sexual contact. 95 percent of the cases right now globally were transmitted through sexual contact,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire stressed that the virus can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets, clothing or other surfaces, during kissing and cuddling.

Two types of monkeypox

THERE are two types of the monkeypox virus according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: West African and Congo Basin.

Infections in the current outbreak are of the West African type.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It is part of the same family of viruses such as the variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are like smallpox symptoms, but are milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.

It was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries. Previously, all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals. These cases occurred on multiple continents.

Is it deadly?

Infections with the type of monkeypox virus identified in this outbreak—the West African type—are rarely fatal, according to the US CDC.

Over 99 percent of people who get this form of the disease are likely to survive. However, people with weakened immune systems, children under eight years of age, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding have a greater chance of getting seriously ill or die.

Although the West African type is rarely fatal, symptoms can be extremely painful, and people might have permanent scarring resulting from the rash.

The Congo Basin type of monkeypox virus has a fatality rate around 10 percent.


THE symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches and back aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and respiratory symptoms like sore throat, nasal congestion our cough. A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus is also a symptom.

Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after infection

Since the monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, vaccines developed to protect against smallpox viruses may be used to prevent monkeypox infections.

”With the entry of a lone monkeypox case, the DOH assures that all hands are on deck and that we are capable to prevent the further transmission of the virus,” Vergeire said.

Image credits: AP

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