CDC alerts gay and bisexual men are prone to getting monkeypox

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention alerted that gay and bisexual men are getting the monkeypox virus more easily and spreading it to the community on Monday.

A CDC official, Dr. John Brooks stated that anyone who can contract monkeypox through closed personal contact would be in danger regardless of their sexual orientation. Dr. Brooks added that many of those affected are gay and bisexual, however. While it did not mean that sexual orientation determined who contracted the monkeypox, the population susceptible is in the gay and bisexual community.

Dr. Brooks said monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact as well as through shared bedding. The virus spreads through contact with body fluids and sores. He added that it is very important for physicians and individuals to be aware of the symptoms associated with monkeypox, particularly anal or genital lesions that can be confused with herpes, syphilis, or chickenpox.

“Anyone with a rash or lesion around or involving their genitals, their anus or any other place that they have not seen it before, should be fully evaluated, both for that rash but particularly for sexually transmitted infection and other illnesses that can cause rash,” Brooks said.

Monkeypox usually begins with symptoms similar to the flu including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. It leads to body rashes on the face, hands, feet, eyes, mouth, or genitals that turn into raised bumps that become blisters.

Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC official said that while the virus has a long incubation period, patients are considered most infectious when they have a rash. Though monkeypox can spread through respiratory droplets, the virus comes from infected lesions in the throat and mouth that can expel it into the air. Transmission from respiratory droplets requires prolonged face-to-face contact, according to CNBC,

“This is not Covid,” McQuiston said. “Respiratory spread is not the predominant worry. It is contact and intimate contact in the current outbreak setting and population.”

The smallpox vaccine appears to be about 85% effective at preventing monkeypox, based on research in Africa, according to the CDC. The U.S. has a stockpile of 100 million doses of an older generation vaccine called ACAM2000 that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people at high risk of smallpox, according to McQuiston. However, the vaccine can have significant side effects and any decision to use it widely would require serious discussion, she said.

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