By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - The monkeypox disease does not spread easily between people, the EU health agency said on Monday.
"Human-to-human transmission occurs through close contact with infectious material from skin lesions of an infected person, through respiratory droplets in prolonged face-to-face contact, and through fomites," the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) stated in a risk assessment after an outbreak of the illness in non-endemic countries.
The report pointed out that most patients diagnosed with monkeypox in Europe were gay men and "the nature of the presenting lesions in some cases, suggest transmission occurred during sexual intercourse."
The EU health agency warned that people who have multiple sexual partners are at higher risk of infection.
According to the risk assessment, patients have so far only presented mild symptoms during the current outbreak. But, it warned that monkeypox, in general, could cause severe disease.
The ECDC recommended EU member states require monkeypox patients to remain isolated and avoid close physical contact until their rash heals completely.
Patients can recover at home with supportive care, the document adds.
Close contacts of monkeypox patients should observe symptoms carefully for 21 days and refrain from donating blood, organs, or bone marrow.
Since the beginning of May, several monkeypox cases have been detected in nine EU countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Monkeypox is a virus transmitted to humans from animals, with symptoms including fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.