Health

Monkeypox Outbreak Appears To Be Driven By Gay Sex, Health Authorities Say

(Photo by CHARLES BOUESSEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
Font Size:

The global spread of monkeypox is largely being driven by sex between homosexual males, health authorities are warning.

Most of the roughly 200 confirmed cases throughout North America and Europe can be linked to sex among men, the World Health Organization said Monday. The numbers have grown exponentially since two cases were confirmed in the United Kingdom less than two weeks ago, the first cases of 2022 identified outside Africa.

The United States and Canada have each confirmed at least five cases in their countries, according to CNBC, and the European outbreak is believed to be the largest in the history of the continent. The virus is not technically a sexually-transmitted disease, but is spread through close physical contact with an infected person or linens they have touched, according to the WHO.

“Many diseases can be spread through sexual contact. You could get a cough or a cold through sexual contact, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a sexually transmitted disease,” said WHO adviser Andy Seale. (RELATED: Outbreak Of Monkeypox Linked To Massive Festival For The ‘Gay Fetish Community’)

Health officials say more and more cases are likely to be identified in the coming weeks as surveillance is ramped up. Monkeypox can be severe in some cases, but is not typically lethal to humans. Former Food and Drug Administration director Scott Gottlieb told CNBC the illness can last up to four months and can have a 21-day incubation period.

Symptoms include fever, aches, exhaustion, and a rash that often begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body, especially the genitals. The pathogen does not typically spread easily between humans.