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A study showed 13 men infected with monkeypox without symptoms

  • A new study of 200 French men suggests that some people can test positive for monkeypox without showing symptoms.
  • It is still not clear if she is asymptomatic transition Monkeypox is possible, though.
  • A Nigerian doctor told Insider he knew of at least one case of possible monkeypox before symptoms developed during sexual contact.

a A new study from France It raises new questions about whether monkeypox can be transmitted without symptoms.

In the studyResearchers collected anal swabs from 200 men who had sex with men — all of whom were getting it Routine tests for STDs – And I tested it for monkeypox.

Crucially, none of these men had any symptoms of monkeypox when they were tested, and they had no early signs of infection—no lesions, no fever, no swollen lymph nodes, nothing.

When the test results came back, the researchers were surprised to find that 13 of those 200 asymptomatic men tested positive for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for monkeypox.

This does not necessarily mean that these thirteen men were capable of that spread out Monkeypox without knowing it, but it raises the question: Is it possible to transmit asymptomatic monkeypox?

Body weakness as a possible early sign of monkeypox before the rash appears

The issue of asymptomatic transmission during sex is also a question for Dr. Demi Ogwena – a Nigerian doctor who was One of the first doctors To raise the alarm about the large numbers of young, active men who contracted monkeypox again in 2017 — he was asking himself.

Ogwena, the medical director at Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, told Insider that he recently saw a monkeypox patient in his clinic who said that “when they had sex, there was no sore, no rash” and no fever, they just felt some “weakness of the body.”

It was only after sexual intercourse, Ogwena said, that he noticed a rash on his genitals. Then “five days later, his partner also noticed a rash on the genitals.”

Is monkeypox transmitted through semen?

It’s unclear whether monkeypox could be transmitted asymptomatically, possibly via bodily fluids, and before people started feeling sick, but some studies have already shown that monkeypox virus can be detected in some sperm of infected people.

“It is not necessarily uncommon to see viral particles in body fluids – it does not mean that they are capable of reproducing, and capable of causing disease,” Ogwena added. “But I think it’s also a signal that we need to explore in depth.”

As with COVID-19, a positive PCR test does not necessarily mean that a person is contagious as well.

Dr. Lawrence Barbora, an infectious disease expert at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, studies how viruses are transmitted in semen. For some diseases (such as Ebola) it is clear that Semen plays a role In transmission, while for others (such as COVID) there is almost no evidence of this.

“The discovery of monkeypox virus in semen is not entirely surprising,” Barbora previously told Insider. “First you want to ask: Is the detected virus viable and contagious?”

He says the “gold standard” for answering the question correctly is “not just detection using PCR, but an attempt to grow the virus in a lab. This is called virus isolation.”

Asymptomatic spread, if it occurs, ‘changes everything’

Loading monkeypox vaccine into a syringe

A medical worker prepares a dose of a vaccine used to protect against monkeypox in Paris on July 27, 2022.

Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images

If monkeypox could spread without symptoms, Ogwena said, “it changes everything.”

The new French research published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, still eager to stress it It is still “unknown” whether monkeypox can be transmitted without symptoms.

But they said it would have huge repercussions.

If monkeypox spreads from some people without any symptoms, vaccinating those who have been exposed to a known case of monkeypox is not enough to stop the outbreak.

Five years after sounding the alarm about monkeypox, Ogoina is well aware that there are many mysteries left to unravel about how this virus spreads.

“There are a lot of things still not known about monkeypox – the natural history is not well described, because, of course, it was a neglected disease,” he said. He hopes that with more of the scientist’s attention — and resources — trained on the problem, better answers will emerge.

“Since the global north has cases now, I’m sure there will be investments in research,” he added.

“If we are able, for example, to show that viable viruses can be isolated from semen and that they survive for a while, it will completely change the kind of general advice we need to give, and how we view transmission.”

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