The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday it was co-ordinating with British and other European health officials after British authorities discovered at least seven cases of monkeypox this month.

Health officials have noted that some of these infections can occur through sexual contact – in this case among gays or bisexual men – which will be a new development in understanding the transmission of the virus.

Symptoms of monkeypox, which is endemic in some parts of Central and West Africa, in humans include lesions, fever, muscle aches and chills.

Transmission usually occurs through close contact with infected animals such as rodents and monkeys, and is limited between humans. This was only on rare occasions.

The UK Health Agency (UKHSA) said on Monday it had identified four new cases – three in London and one related case in Newcastle, North East England – after registering three cases earlier in May.

All four additional cases were men who have sex with men or identify themselves as gay or bisexual, according to UKHSA.

None of them knows the connection to the three previously confirmed cases, the first of which was related to a trip from Nigeria.

Patients in need of medical care are in special infectious wards at hospitals in London and Newcastle, the agency said.

At a briefing on Tuesday, the WHO said that one “additional probable” case had also been registered in Britain.

“We are seeing a transfer among men who have sex with men,” Ibrahim Sose Fall, WHO’s assistant director general for emergency response, told reporters.

“(This) is new information that we need to research properly to better understand the dynamics of local transmission in the UK and some other countries.”

Maria Van Kerchowe, another WHO official, said the organization is working with its regional office as well as with the European Center for Disease Control and UKHSA to better understand the outbreak.

“We work very closely with [them]… to assess each of these cases, the source of their infection, ”she added.

Van Kerch noted that this included “tracking direct contacts to ensure there will be no further human-to-human transmission, and tracking back contacts to better understand the source of the infection.”

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