New Delhi: The monkeypox virus is primarily spreading through sex among men, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

The WHO, however, said that the disease is containable.

First reported on May 7 in the UK, monkeypox has rapidly spread to over a dozen countries, where the virus is typically not found unlike some countries in Central and West Africa, with about 200 confirmed and suspected cases.

So far no-associated deaths have been reported.

The WHO has warned that the infection is likely to spread to more nations even as it expands surveillance.

It further said that the identification of confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox with no direct travel links to an endemic area “represents a highly unusual event”.

“We’ve seen a few cases in Europe over the last five years, just in travellers, but this is the first time we’re seeing cases across many countries at the same time in people who have not travelled to the endemic regions in Africa,” Rosamund Lewis, who runs the WHO’s smallpox research, said.

While the virus itself is not a sexually transmitted infection, which are generally spread through semen and vaginal fluids, the most recent surge in cases appears to have been spread among men who have sex with other men, WHO officials said.

“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,” Andy Seale.

Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.

Further, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) noted that the likelihood of spread is very low for the broader population, BBC reported.

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