Fact-checking claims about monkeypox: Where did it come from? How does it spread?

Social media a significant source of misinformation

With monkeypox cases climbing, many people looking for information are turning to social media. Unfortunately, that’s been a significant source of misinformation.

With monkeypox cases climbing, many people looking for information are turning to social media -- which has been a significant source of misinformation.

Read: Where is monkeypox in Michigan? Here’s a map of cases and everything you should know about symptoms

Did monkeypox come from COVID? Is it related to the COVID vaccine?

No. Monkeypox was identified decades ago and has no biological relation to COVID or the COVID vaccine at all.

Was monkeypox leaked from a lab?

One claim making the rounds on social media is that monkeypox was leaked or purposefully released from a lab -- that is completely untrue.

According to the CDC, monkeypox was first identified in 1958 when monkeys being kept in a lab developed the infection.

The first human case of monkeypox was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a 9-month-old child.

Is monkeypox more common in gay and bisexual men?

According to the CDC, “many of those affected in the current global outbreaks are gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men.”

While that group has been hardest hit in the current outbreak, it’s important to know that monkeypox can spread to anyone in close contact with an infected person regardless of their gender or sexual identity.

Is monkeypox airborne? How does it spread?

Right now, the most common route of spread is through direct physical contact with an infected person.

The virus can also spread through objects, particularly clothing and bedding that have been in contact with monkeypox sores.

Respiratory secretions can also be infectious, specifically with close prolonged face-to-face contact or from large droplets that you find in a cough or a sneeze.

So far, there is no evidence that it is airborne from any distance in the same way COVID or the flu spread but the research is ongoing.

If you have the smallpox vaccine are you protected from monkeypox?

The currently-used vaccines for monkeypox are smallpox vaccines.

Prior research suggests the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective against monkeypox. The only warning would be that the last time smallpox vaccines were given to the U.S. population was in the 1970s and for many people, their immunity will likely have decreased.

Is monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease?

It can be transmitted sexually, but that is certainly not the only way it is spread.

According to the World Health Organization, just over 90% of cases in the current outbreak are related to a sexual encounter. That means 10% was not related to a sexual encounter.


About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.