The Myths Of Monkeypox, Debunked By Health Experts

The Myths Of Monkeypox, Debunked By Health Experts

Medical misinformation is far from new. In fact, it became so rampant and harmful during the COVID-19 pandemic that the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy had to issue an advisory about it in 2021. Not only does health misinformation threaten public health, but it can also cause mistrust, confusion, and can undermine public health efforts. 

Now, there are many countries around the world dealing with monkeypox. In the United States, monkeypox was recently declared a health emergency, which you can learn more about by clicking here. Because it is a relatively new outbreak and the disease is unfamiliar, monkeypox naturally has conspiracies and misinformation around it. Rumors will kick into high gear and people may or may not believe the information that comes out. As a result, people won’t have the information they need to stay safe. 

Infectious disease experts got together to put an end to the misinformation about monkeypox. Below, you will find myths about the disease that health experts debunked. 

Myth: Monkeypox Is A New Strain Of COVID-19

No, monkeypox is not a new strain of COVID-19. In fact, monkeypox belongs to the smallpox family of viruses, meaning there is no connection to monkeypox and the coronavirus. There is a different transmission and life cycle, so you don’t contract it the same way you contract COVID-19. Monkeypox is not an airborne virus and even though cases are on the rise, it isn’t showing the fatalities that resulted from COVID-19 infection. That said, the signs and symptoms of the virus can be unpleasant and severe. 

Myth: Monkeypox Is A New Disease

This may be the first time in history that people in the United States are learning about monkeypox. In reality, monkeypox has been around for more than six decades. Scientists first learned of the virus in 1958, when two pox-like outbreaks occurred in colonies of research monkeys. It was Dr. Mark Fischer, the regional medical director at International SOS, who said it was first seen in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Until this year, however, most monkeypox cases were limited to a few African countries, where the virus is endemic. 

Myth: You Can Get Monkeypox From A Swimming Pool

Scientists continue to research monkeypox and how it spreads. As of now, it doesn’t seem to be a waterborne virus; rather, it primarily spreads via skin-to-skin contact. It can spread when people touch unwashed linens and clothing previously used/worn by someone with monkeypox. Keeping that in mind, take precautions at the swimming pool. Be aware of what you touch, including towels, clothing, and other objects outside of the pool. The pool itself will probably not give you monkeypox, but coming in contact with an infected person in the pool or around the pool may cause infection.

Myth: Monkeypox Only Affects Gay And Bisexual Men

The current outbreak has symptoms that differ from previously monkeypox outbreaks. Some of these symptoms include genital lesions, anal pain, penile swelling, and rectal bleeding. That said, the symptoms are not limited to these sexual orientations. Some social media users have attempted to claim monkeypox as a “gay sickness,” but this is simply untrue. Anybody can contract monkeypox via close contact. Men who have sex with men without using protection during intercourse do have a higher risk of infection, though. 

Myth: There Is No Treatment For Monkeypox

In most cases, the monkeypox virus is self-limiting, meaning most of the infection resolves itself in about two to four weeks. If diagnosed in the right time frame, there are many treatment strategies to fight against monkeypox. For symptomatic care, experts advise people to hydrate, increase electrolyte intake, and take antipyretics. Antivirals, NSAIDs, paracetamol, and nutritional support are all used to treat fever and pain that can come with infection. Additionally, there are two vaccines available to protect against the monkeypox virus, even though both are not monkeypox specific. They are, however, at least 85% effective against monkeypox. 

Myth: Monkeypox Was Created In A Lab

There are people who love a good conspiracy theory, but this is a big myth. Monkeypox originated in a colony of monkeys studied for research in the late 1950s. Sporadic outbreaks occurred over the years, primarily in the tropical rain forests of Central and West Africa. Currently, it remains unknown if the virus originated in monkeys or if they contracted it from another species. Because several species can carry it, monkeys may not have transmitted the virus to humans.



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