Monkeypox virus found in saliva and semen of infected people

The DNA of the virus monkey pox can often be detected in different samples from infected people, including saliva and semen. This was the conclusion of a study carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and published in ulatest issue of Eurosurveillance magazinescientific publication on surveillance, epidemiology, prevention and control of infectious diseases.

The main form of transmission of the disease is through contact with infected lesions, but this study suggests that the spread can also happen through sexual fluids and saliva. Which would be an explanation for the rapid growth in the number of cases in the world.

According to real-time monitoring conducted by the initiative Global.health there are already more than 13,200 cases in the world, with Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany being the countries with the highest concentration of cases.

The research was carried out with 147 clinical samples from different regions, collected from 12 patients infected with monkeypox, at different times of infection.

High viral loads were detected in all 12 samples of saliva and skin lesions from the patients. DNA was also found in 11 of 12 rectal swabs – sterile swabs used to collect samples for examinations; 10 of 12 nasopharyngeal swabs; 7 of 9 of semen; 9 out of 12 urine and 8 out of 12 stool.

” Some previous studies had already shown the occasional presence of viral DNA in some samples and in some patients, but here we show that viral DNA is frequently present in various biological fluids, particularly in saliva, during the acute phase of the disease and up to 16 days after the onset of symptoms in a patient,” explained Aida Peiró, a researcher at ISGlobal and first author of the study.

The research volunteers were men who have sex with men, with an average age of 38 years. Four patients were HIV-positive, but with an undetectable HIV viral load. All reported sexual activity with up to 10 partners in the previous month.

Even with the discovery, the study authors point out that the presence of virus DNA in a sample does not necessarily mean that it is an infectious agent.

“Our results contribute to a better understanding of a likely complex transmission conundrum and underscore other immediate areas of research, such as the infectivity of body fluids, the frequency of secondary and asymptomatic cases, or the impact of social and behavioral factors that affect viral transmission. “, said the researchers in the publication.


Find out what still intrigues science about monkeypox


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