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Stanford experts document non-sexual transmission of monkeypox

Stanford experts document non-sexual transmission of monkeypox
Stanford experts document non-sexual transmission of monkeypox 02:50

STANFORD – Although the recent outbreak of monkeypox cases seem to primarily spread through sexual contact between men, a recent case documented at Stanford University raises questions about transmissibility.

In a research letter published in the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, they detail the patient, a man in his 20's, sought emergency care at the hospital for a rash about two weeks after a trip to the United Kingdom.

He was diagnosed with Monkeypox, but unlike the majority of patients, he'd reported no sexual contact or any known contact with a person who had the virus.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON MONKEYPOX: California Department of Public Health | SF Department of Public Health | Santa Clara County Department of Public Health

According to the letter, the man had attended a large, crowded outdoor event where he had close contact with others, such as dancing, for a few hours. However, they haven't determined exactly where the man contracted the virus.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, believes this instance is an anomaly.

"You can get it even without sex. It's rare, but it can happen," she said. "This seemed to be a one-off case."

Gandhi says the vast majority of cases appear to spread among men who have sex with men. So for people who don't fall in high risk groups, her takeaway from this instance of transmission is, it is rare.

 "This was a very rare event. Try not to worry," she said. "Yes, lightning can strike, but hopefully it will not happen to you."

However, monkeypox can spread through non-sexual, skin-to-skin contact also.

On Saturday, Dr. Lukejohn Day, the Chief Medical Officer for Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, told KPIX 5: "It's skin-to-skin contact, so anyone who comes into contact with the lesion potentially is at risk for contracting it."

Gandhi said the ongoing vaccine rollout should help contain the outbreak, especially among those who are at higher risk for getting sick.

"You're seeing in Quebec and the U.K., where they got the vaccine out faster, cases are already coming down," she said. "It should happen in the United States, as long as we get the vaccine out faster."

At this time, the vaccine isn't recommended for everyone, only for those who've been exposed or are at high risk to be exposed.

"Based upon all of the best evidence and data that we have, it's only those specific groups that are at least at high risk right now, that we're recommending the vaccine," Day said.

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