Can monkeypox spread on the subway? Can it kill like COVID-19? Experts respond to monkeypox myths and misconceptions.
Can monkeypox spread on the subway? Can it kill like COVID-19? Is it transmitted through sex?
Misconceptions, myths and a lack of public knowledge on the monkeypox virus are widespread. Despite 57 percent of adults recently polled by Morning Consult feeling confident in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to control the spread of monkeypox, many Americans are misinformed on how the virus spreads and how concerned they should be right now — as they face the virus for the first time.
Last month, the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that nearly half of 1,580 surveyed adults were not sure if monkeypox was less contagious than COVID-19. (It is much less contagious.) One-third of more than 4,000 adults polled by Morning Consult aren’t sure how monkeypox spreads. Two-thirds of those surveyed by Annenberg were unsure or didn’t believe that there is a monkeypox vaccine (there is, it’s FDA-approved, and to be eligible for a vaccine right now in most areas, people must be in a high-risk group — predominately queer men, or trans and nonbinary people, who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last two weeks.).
Monkeypox is a disease primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact that can infect anyone, but is currently affecting queer men the most.
Here’s what experts have to say in response to common misconceptions and myths about the monkeypox virus.
PEOPLE CAN GET MONKEYPOX ON PUBLIC TRANSIT, IN DRESSING ROOMS, OR WHILE SHOPPING: FALSE
The risk of getting infected through these situations is extremely low, said Stephen Abbott, medical director at Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center, a D.C.-based healthcare provider focused on serving LGBTQ+ people.
Abbott stressed that spread occurs through direct skin-to-skin transmission — not skin-to-object, then someone else touching that object. The virus can spread by touching sex toys, sheets and other fabrics that have made contact with exposed lesions or skin rashes, per the CDC — but the vast majority of cases are being reported by men who had sex or close intimate contact with another man prior to infection.
Places where a person could typically pick up a cold or flu virus are not considered primary points of transmission.
“There’s really no evidence at this time to suggest people are being infected through casual contact through public transportation, and anything like that. The vast majority of the cases that have been identified from the outbreak so far had been through intimate contact or sexual activity,” said Daniel Uslan, co-chief infection prevention officer at UCLA Health and
YOUTUBE VIDEO: Doctor debunks monkeypox myths, know all about precautions and treatment
MONKEYPOX CAN SPREAD THROUGH SHAKING HANDS OR HUGGING: NOT LIKELY
These are also very low-risk situations, Uslan said, adding that he is not aware of recorded cases where handshaking is the suspected route of transmission.
But skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an open lesion can still occur if those lesions are on the hands, Abbott noted — and some lesions are so small that patients don’t notice them.
“Some of the patients I’ve seen when I do their skin exam, they haven’t even noticed that they have a lesion on their hand,” he said. “They might inadvertently shake someone’s hand and expose them unknowingly.”
However, some of the fears surrounding the spread of monkeypox — especially from low-risk encounters in public spaces — seem to manifest from anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, as gay and bisexual men are primarily contracting the virus right now, said Perry Halkitis, dean and professor of public health and health equity at Rutgers School of Public Health.
“People will use any piece of information, if they are homophobic, to disadvantage and to stigmatize gay men,” he said.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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