You can get the virus by biting or scratching an infected animal, by eating wild meat, by having direct contact with an infected person or by touching bedding or dirty clothing.
The virus enters the body through skin lesions, the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur mainly through large respiratory droplets, which can usually travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact may be required.
Some British experts commenting on the recent UK outbreak said it would eventually lead to the spread of the monkey through sexual contact, but that was unlikely.
“Recent cases suggest a new way to spread it,” said Neil Mabbott, a pathologist at the University of Edinburgh, adding that the related germs are known to be sexually transmitted.
Keith Neal, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nottingham, said it was possible that the infection was not sexually transmitted but a “sexual intimacy”.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasized in a statement that “anyone, regardless of gender, can transmit the monkey by contact with body fluids, monkey sores, or shared items (such as bedding and blankets) that are contaminated.”
Should I worry?
Health authorities say that monkeys often become seriously ill and that most people recover within a few weeks.
“Most of the current cases have shown signs of disease, and for most people, the chances of it spreading are very slim,” ECDC director Andrea Ammon said on Monday.
“However, the chances of the virus spreading through close contact, for example during sexual intercourse between people with multiple sexual partners, are considered high.”
Infected patients in England contracted the West African virus, which health officials say is relatively mild compared with the Central African clade and has a mortality rate of about 1 percent.
The genome sequence from a swab sample from a certified trial in Portugal has shown similarity with that of the 2018-2019 outbreak of cases sent from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Israel and Singapore.
Heymann, a former head of WHO’s emergency department, said the disease was unlikely to cause widespread outbreaks.
“This is not COVID,” he said. “We need to slow down, but it’s not spreading in the air and we have defensive targets in it.”