THE World Health Organisation is looking into reports that the monkeypox virus is present in the semen of patients.

It comes as today a further 52 cases of monkeypox were detected in the UK, raising the total to 524 infections.

In recent weeks around 1,600 cases have been detected globally – something experts say is 'concerning'.

And now the WHO is exploring the possibility that the disease could be sexually transmitted.

Many cases in the current monkeypox outbreak are among sexual partners who have had close contact.

The agency reiterated that virus is mainly transmitted via close interpersonal contact.

In recent days, scientists say they have detected viral DNA in the semen of a handful of monkeypox patients in Italy and Germany.

Catherine Smallwood, monkeypox incident manager at WHO/Europe, said it was not known whether recent reports meant the monkeypox virus could be sexually transmitted.

She said: "This may have been something that we were unaware of in this disease before.

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"We really need to focus on the most frequent mode of transmission and we clearly see that to be associated with skin-to-skin contact."

Medics say you should contact a sexual health clinic if you have rashes or blisters and if you have been in contact with someone who has had monkeypox in the last three weeks.

This guidance also applies to those who have been to West or Central Africa in the past three weeks.

However, the WHO are also set to rename the virus – in a move which could see the illness called hMPXV.

It comes after 30 scientists wrote a letter calling for the change, over concerns it could provoke racism and stigmatisation.

Anyone can get monkeypox, and before the current outbreak, it was mostly found in African countries.

But experts are worried that references to the illness as African are problematic.

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In a letter to the organisation scientists said that "continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatising."

The note continued: "The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of photos of African patients to depict the pox lesions in mainstream media in the global north."

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