While the internet is a fantastic resource that allows you to find information on any topic with the press of a button, misinformation abounds on the world wide web. Like a game of telephone, it’s easy for a fact to be warped and regurgitated so often online that it no longer resembles the truth. Unfortunately, when misinformation is regarding health topics, the potential for severe consequences is high.
As monkeypox becomes more widely discussed online, the misinformation surrounding the disease continues to grow. Don’t be misled by unverified information. Here’s what you need to know to keep you and your family safe.
1. Monkeypox Is a Brand-New Virus
You may not have heard about monkeypox until May of 2022, when Britain reported that a citizen who had visited Lagos, Nigeria contracted the virus. But the medical community has been aware of the disease for over 60 years. In fact, there was even a small virus outbreak in the United States in 2003, although it infected fewer than 50 people.
The virus was first found in humans in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, and until recently, the disease was endemic, which means regularly found, in a few African Countries. So while it may seem like monkeypox is a brand-new disease, it’s been studied and treated for years.
2. Monkeypox Is a Sexually Transmitted Infection
This piece of misinformation has spread like wildfire and created a nonsensical stigma around monkeypox. Since monkeypox is a contagious virus, it can be spread during intercourse. However, just because you can catch a virus while having sex doesn’t make it a sexually transmitted infection.
The truth is monkeypox is spread through direct interaction, like touching the rash or scabs of someone with monkeypox, interacting with an object that someone with monkeypox used, and contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected individual.
Although virus contraction can undoubtedly happen during sexual contact, it can also happen during non-sexual contact, although not as easily.
3. Only Bisexual and Gay Men Contract Monkeypox
Monkeypox is not a virus that discriminates based on sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is; if you come into direct contact with an infected person, you can contract the disease. There is nothing about male-to-male sexual interactions that increase the likelihood of transmission.
4. Monkeypox Is Lab-Made
Despite what conspiracy theorists in the far corners of the internet might have you believe, the monkeypox virus isn’t manufactured and isn’t a bio-terrorism weapon. Monkeypox was first discovered in a group of monkeys being studied for research purposes in the early 1960s. There have been scattered outbreaks throughout the past decades, mostly in African countries.
In November of 2021, a case of monkeypox was discovered in a U.S. citizen returning from Nigeria. Additionally, in 2003, a human outbreak occurred from imported mammals. The virus was confirmed to have spread from the imported mammals to domestic prairie dogs, who then transmitted the virus to 47 people. Despite not being a well-known virus to most Americans, monkeypox originated in nature, not in a lab.
5. The Monkeypox Vaccine Is Easy to Get
There are two vaccines currently being used to protect against monkeypox, although neither was explicitly created for the virus. JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 were designed for smallpox prevention but are at least 85% effective at preventing monkeypox. However, just because vaccines exist doesn’t mean the production amount is enough to provide them to everyone. The average person does not need the vaccine: doses should be saved for at-risk individuals.
The CDC has certain parameters regarding who they recommend should receive the vaccine. Individuals exposed to monkeypox in the last four days to two weeks and those working in environments with a high risk of exposure to the virus are eligible to receive the vaccine. Individuals with certain medical conditions may benefit from the vaccine, but taking natural steps to prevent disease, such as following standard hygiene protocol and taking precautions when coming into direct contact with others, are effective preventative methods.
6. Vaccines Are the Only Way to Prevent Monkeypox
While vaccines are a preventative measure, they are far from the only option for virus prevention (CDC). The average individual can prevent monkeypox by avoiding direct, skin-to-skin contact with individuals with an unspecified rash. Likewise, refraining from hugging, kissing, cuddling, or having sexual intercourse with an infected person is crucial to preventing transmission.
In addition, uninfected people should not share an infected person’s objects, including bedding, clothes, dishware, and handheld devices. Regular handwashing and using an alcohol-based sanitizer can prevent the spread of the virus. Finally, individuals who live in or visit Central and West Africa should avoid contact with rodents and primates, sick or dead animals of any species, and their bedding or other items they have touched.
7. You Can Contract Monkeypox From the COVID-19 Vaccine
Another extremely harmful myth is that you can contract monkeypox from the COVID-19 vaccine. You cannot become infected with any virus from the COVID-19 vaccine, including the Coronavirus. Four vaccines are available to prevent COVID-19, and none contain the live virus necessary for disease transmission.
Additionally, the Coronavirus and monkeypox are two entirely unrelated viruses. There is no way for monkeypox to be transmitted through the COVID-19 vaccine.
8. Monkeypox Is Only Spread in Large Groups
As society attempts to reestablish normalcy following the Coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that individuals would believe the same protocols that helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19 would protect against monkeypox. As monkeypox is spread through direct contact, large groups can pose a potential risk.
However, it isn’t really the group that is the issue: it is the direct contact that often occurs in large groups. Whether hugging or brushing against an infected individual or sharing food and beverages, the potential for spread exists but is not nearly as likely as with the Coronavirus.
9. Ivermectin Will Treat the Monkeypox Virus
If you contract the monkeypox virus, chances are high that you will recover without needing medication in two to four weeks. Of course, you will want to be in contact with your doctor if any complications arise, but unless you have a weakened immune system, you should not need medical treatment.
Those at risk for complications may be prescribed anti-viral medications such as TPOXX. Self-medicating with medicines such as Ivermectin is at best unnecessary and, at worst, potentially harmful. Since Ivermectin is a potent antifungal, taking it without any need will stress your body pointlessly and could cause digestive issues.
10. Euthanasia Is the Only Option for Pets With Monkey Pox
Euthanasia is not necessary for the vast majority of monkeypox cases in domestic animals. If your pet displays symptoms such as rash, lethargy, or bloating, and has been in contact with an infected individual, contact your vet. Since monkeypox can be spread from animals to people and vice versa, you will want to take care not to transmit the virus to your pet and to prevent virus transmission from your pet to you.
Wearing gloves, long sleeves and pants, and a mask when handling an infected pet will lower your risk of contracting the virus. Likewise, if you believe your pet is infected, you will want to contact your vet and prevent skin-to-skin contact. Do not harm or abandon your pet; contact a veterinarian or animal rescue agency if you feel you cannot adequately care for your companion.
Don’t let misconceptions about monkeypox cause you unnecessary stress. Instead, contact our care team at MCR Health today if you have questions or concerns about this virus or any other medical issue.