The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning saying members of the LGBTQ community should take precautionary measures as they are at a higher risk amid the global monkeypox outbreak.
The public health agency said Monday that while everyone is not immune to the monkeypox virus, certain groups of people have greater chances of catching it. CDC noticed that a “notable fraction of cases” has been reported among gay and bisexual men.
“Some groups may have a greater chance of exposure right now, but by no means is the current risk of exposure to monkeypox exclusively to the gay and bisexual community in the US,” CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention chief medical officer Dr. John Brooks said.
He continued, “Anyone, anyone, can develop [and] spread monkeypox infection, but … many of those affected in the current global outbreak identified as gay and bisexual men.”
The CDC issued the warning after the United States recorded one case of monkeypox and four suspected cases. The confirmed case was a man in Massachusetts, while the other suspected four were documented in New York, Florida, and Utah, as per CNN.
Although monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, the virus can be passed through sexual intercourse and intimate contact. Since the virus spreads through contact with body fluids and sores, shared bedding can also transmit the disease.
“We want to help people make the best-informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their community from monkeypox,” Brooks said before noting that physicians and individuals should be familiar with the symptoms associated with monkeypox amid the outbreak.
The CDC listed the common signs and symptoms of the infection on its website. The list includes fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Within 1 to 3 days after experiencing fever, patients develop a rash that starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body.
Brooks pointed out that people should watch out for anal or genital lesions that could be easily confused with herpes, syphilis, or chickenpox because they could be indicative of monkeypox.
“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.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently identified about 200 confirmed or suspected monkeypox cases across more than 12 countries in Europe and North America. The virus is endemic in West and Central African nations, so the cases reported outside these regions are considered unusual and rare, according to CNBC.