We took some claims being made about the virus to Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Is monkeypox a new virus?
False. Adalja said, “Monkeypox was first described in the medical literature in the 1950s and hasn't been infecting humans since at least the 1970s.
Did monkeypox come from monkeys?
False. Adalja said, “Although monkeypox was first described in monkeys. Its original host, or natural host, is some unknown animal, likely a rodent.”
Was monkeypox created in a lab?
False. Adalja said, “There's no evidence that monkeypox was created in the lab. In fact, it was first described in the 1950s, when there weren't even those sophisticated technologies to make a virus.”
Was monkeypox caused by COVID-19 vaccinations?
False. Adalja said, “There is no relationship between COVID-19 vaccinations and monkeypox.”
Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease?
False. Adalja said, “Although there is some data to show that the virus can be found in sexual fluids. It's primarily passing because of close contact that's inherent in sexual activity, not necessarily in sexual activity.”
Does monkeypox only affect gay and bisexual men?
False. Adalja said, “Monkeypox can infect anybody. But what's happening in this outbreak is that it's heavily concentrated in a sexual social network. So, we're seeing cases almost exclusively in men who have sex with men, although there have been some cases and other individuals. It’s really reflective of the unique characteristics of this outbreak.”
Is it true that monkeypox is not as highly transmissible as smallpox or COVID?
True. Adalja said, “Monkeypox is not a very contagious disease, and it's certainly not as contagious as a respiratory virus like COVID-19. It is something that requires close contact with another individual. It’s not something that spreads as casually as walking by somebody or breathing the same air as somebody the way COVID-19 does.”
Can you get monkeypox from an infected animal?
True. Adalja said, “Monkeypox does have an unknown animal host. In the prior outbreak that occurred in the United States in 2003. It was linked to the importation of African rodents who then infected prairie dogs.”
Can you get monkeypox from respiratory droplets?
True. Adalja said, “Monkeypox can technically be spread through respiratory droplets, but it's not the main mechanism by how people are getting infected.”
Do monkeypox symptoms include rashes, headache and fever?
True. Adalja said, “Monkeypox is characterized by a fever and a characteristic rash, as well as headaches and flu like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes.”
Does monkeypox mutate easily?
False. Adalja said, “The monkeypox, genetic material is relatively stable. Although there have been mutations that have occurred, it’s not a virus known to mutate heavily the way Covid-19 does.”
Can you spread monkeypox, even if you don't have any symptoms?
False. Adalja said, “Monkeypox is not contagious during its incubation period, which limits its transmissibility.”
Can you get monkeypox from trying on clothes?
Unlikely. Adalja said, “We've known that monkeypox can spread through contaminated linens like bedsheets. There is some nonzero risk. But the average person going to a shopping mall to try on clothes is not going to really be at monkeypox risk of acquiring monkeypox that way.
Is monkeypox the next COVID-19?
False. Adalja said, “Monkeypox does not have pandemic potential. This is a virus for which we have tried and true countermeasures, like the vaccine antivirals. And it's something that's not as contagious as COVID-19. This is a containable virus. It’s important to remember that although there’s a tendency to look at every infectious disease emergency through the lens of COVID-19, you can’t do that. You have to respect the difference in the biology between different types of viruses and their transmission. So, no, monkeypox is not the next COVID-19.”