Since monkeypox was first discovered and identified in the 1970s, it has taken the world by storm. This monkeypox outbreak which seemed to emerge in may this year has given birth to a lot of chaos and worry.
In addition to this, WHO (World Health Organisation) declared monkeypox to be a global health emergency concern. This has led to a lot of misinformation and a lack of education with respect to this disease. In this article, we discuss the most common myths surrounding monkeypox.
Myths about monkeypox debunked:
Myth #1: Monkeypox is a new virus
Monkeypox has led to a lot of chaos which may be due to the covid-19 pandemic. Due to covid-19 being a new virus, the impact was catastrophic and long. Lack of knowledge on the same may have contributed to the worsening. However, monkeypox is not a new virus. In fact, as mentioned in the beginning, the first case of monkeypox was identified in 1970. The chances of contracting monkeypox can be lowered through its vaccine and through the knowledge we have of this disease.
Myth #2: Monkeypox cannot be treated with medication
Due to a lack of proper information, many may assume monkeypox cannot be treated through medication. However, that is incorrect. Although monkeypox heals itself in 2-4 weeks, certain medications can be extremely helpful in managing and lowering the many symptoms of monkeypox. Besides medication, eating healthy and consuming lots of fluids have been proven helpful in managing the course of this virus.
Myth #3: Monkeypox can only be contracted via gay relationships
Similar to HIV/AIDS, the emergence of monkeypox caused a lot of hysteria toward gay and bisexual men. However, the monkeypox transmission possibility is higher no matter what sexual preferences. Monkeypox can spread through spit, semen, and other excretions. Being in contact with someone with monkeypox can make you prone to catching it. Being intimate with a monkeypox patient increases these chances furthermore.
Myth #4: Monkeypox is spread by monkeys
Although there is a certain truth to this, monkeys are not the only source through which might contract monkeypox. Monkeypox was discovered to be contracted by monkeys but may also be transmitted through rats, squirrels, other primates, and fellow humans. The best way to avoid contracting monkeypox is to avoid contact with these animals and also fellow humans that may be showing signs of monkeypox.
Myth #5: Monkeypox is airborne
As the Covid-19 virus persists and continues to affect and scare us, people draw out various similarities between the two. The most common similarity is airborne. However, unlike coronavirus, monkeypox is not an airborne disease. Although as discussed previously, contact with someone with monkeypox can make us prone to contracting it. It is ideal to follow proper hygiene and avoid physical contact with someone that may have monkeypox.
Myth #6: Only gay and bisexual men can get monkeypox
If Balboni could debunk one myth, it would be this one.
“The most important thing anyone can know about monkeypox right now is that it can affect anyone, regardless of your sexual orientation or partners,” he says. “Everyone should be aware of the risks and educate themselves on how they can protect themselves against the virus.”
Yancey says this myth reminds her of the ones that existed during the HIV crisis, which stigmatized the gay community. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to Pres. Joe Biden, recently expressed similar concerns on the NPR podcast, All Things Considered, saying that the “government must fight homophobic stigmas surrounding monkeypox.”
“The virus does not discriminate,” Curry-Winchell concurs.
Myth #7: Anyone can easily get a monkeypox vaccine
Two vaccines are available to protect against monkeypox, though neither are monkeypox-specific. ACAM2000 and JYNNEOS were developed for smallpox, but the CDC saysTrusted Source they are at least 85 percent effective against monkeypox. Though there are two available, not everyone can get one.
“The vaccine is in limited supply and controlled by the federal government in the U.S.,” Fischer says. “The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed or are at risk.
According to the CDC, people eligible to receive a vaccination to protect against monkeypox include:
- individuals exposed to the virus in the last 4 to 14 days.
- individuals who are working in certain fields or environments, such as healthcare providers and laboratory employees who test to diagnose orthopoxviruses like monkeypox.
Myth #8: The monkeypox vaccine is widely available
Experts say the monkeypox vaccine is not currently widely available because of the short supply.
Fischer notes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to allocate an additional 786,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine — an improvement, but not enough.
He says the U.S. will need about three times that amount to protect the 1.6 to 1.7 million Americans considered at high risk for contracting monkeypox.
Myth #9: The monkeypox vaccine is new
Fischer says neither vaccine being used for monkeypox is new, and both are effective.
The JYNNEOS vaccine is the more commonly used and the newer of the two. The FDA approved it in 2019Trusted Source for people ages 18 and older considered at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox.
ACAM2000 was approved in 2007Trusted Source and replaced Dryvax for smallpox vaccinations in 2008.
Myth #10: Monkeypox was created in a lab
This statement is also false, Balboni says.
“Monkeypox originated from a colony of monkeys being studied for research in the late 1950s,” he says. “Over the past few decades, there have been sporadic outbreaks of the virus globally, and outbreaks have largely occurred in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa.”
Though scientists first discovered the virus in monkeys, Fischer notes the virus may not have originated in the species.
“It remains unknown whether monkeys transmitted the virus to humans as several species can carry it,” Fischer says.
But it wasn’t created in a lab.