Monkeypox has typically been a virus confined to central and western Africa and is considered endemic in 11 African nations, but now it’s broken out in the global West.
A number of countries in Europe, along with the likes of Israel, the UK, Argentina, the US, Canada, and Australia have all reported a case or cases of monkeypox so far.
The disease began with animal-to-human transmission but is now largely spread from human to human. Although findings around transmission may develop over time, the latest science shows sexual activity is playing a significant role in human-to-human transmission with regard to the recent outbreak.
Weary of much of the media’s reporting of the issue – portraying Africans and LGBTI people in such a way as to “reinforce homophobic and racist stereotypes and exacerbate stigma”, per the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS – it must be noted that monkeypox can be spread between any group of people in close physical contact:
[Dr. Dimie Ogoina, president of the Nigeria Infectious Diseases Society] says monkeypox primarily spreads among humans through close, skin-to-skin contact—especially with the disease’s hallmark blister-like rash.
Researchers are still studying whether people can be asymptomatically contagious, but individuals are considered infectious at least until their rash has fully healed and fresh skin has formed…
The disease does not strictly strike and spread among the sexually active.
Children can get it, unborn babies can get it if the mother is infected, and anybody can get it if they come into close enough contact with someone who is suffering.
Although, health organisations recommend that men who have sex with men might want to be particularly careful, temporarily reducing their number of partners to minimise their risk.
Per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or at least not in the traditional sense.
That’s because the virus can also spread in settings where there’s lots of close non-sexual contact, such as on sports teams, in spas, or in university dorms.
The emphasis is on skin-to-skin contact, but it is also possible to contract monkeypox through exposure to things, such as clothing or bedding, that have touched an infectious person’s rash.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, notes that “you have to be exposed to enough virus to actually get infected with it”.
As for whether or not the virus can be spread through the air, it seems highly unlikely outside of laboratory conditions:
In the shadow of COVID-19, people are understandably concerned about monkeypox potentially being transmitted through aerosols.
But ”the epidemiology is very different,” Rasmussen says. “These are very different viruses.”
The more you know the better, this disease does not look fun:
@tonanty #monkeypox #la #lgbt #lagays #grindr #fyp #hookup #pimple #drpimple ♬ original sound – Tanilraif
There is no need for South Africans to panic and there have been just three confirmed cases within our borders.
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