What is monkeypox and how can you avoid it
Monkeypox has set off all the alarms around the globe. The World Health Organization has warned about the rapid expansion of the virus in Europe and the United States, being responsible for several deaths. However, there are many myths and rumors around monkeypox that are important to dispel.
How do you get infected? After all, monkeypox is different from coronavirus. Close contact is necessary for contagion to occur. The WHO has stated that “it spreads from person to person through direct contact with someone who has a skin rash of monkeypox”.
It is through close physical contact (skin to skin, kissing, making love) that the risk of infection is highest. The skin rash sores are the most likely source of infection.
The World Health Organization assumes that contagion can occur “when an infectious person touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics, and surfaces. Someone else who touches these items can then become infected. It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or virus from clothing, bedding, or towels. This is known as fomite transmission”.
However, many experts believe that the risk of getting monkeypox through objects or clothing is relatively little. The epidemiologist Saskia Popescu, consulted by The New York Times, stated that “personally, I’m less concerned with trying clothing on in the store”.
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Likewise, according to the experts consulted by The New York Times, it is unlikely to become infected by opening a door or touching an object with a non-porous surface.
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Although the WHO agrees that is possible for the virus to spread through droplets from skin rashes, unlike the coronavirus, airborne transmission is not possible except in short-range cases.
The risk of infection from short-range droplets or spread from the air reduces if we keep a distance from infected individuals (at least 10 feet or about three meters) and wear proper face masks.
Of course, large gatherings with massive crowds such as concerts and parties are places where the risk of catching monkeypox increases.
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In any case, the WHO admits that “possible mechanisms of transmission through the air for monkeypox are not yet well understood and studies are underway to learn more”.
It also has to be yet scientifically proven that fluids exchanged while making love can carry the virus.
With this information, plus given the percentage of infected people, we can infer that using public transportation carries little to no risk, along with other activities such as going to the movies or attending a sporting event.
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Something similar happens with concerns about schools and colleges. You can't get infected by sitting at a desk that has been used by someone with monkeypox.
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Of course, everything depends on how the disease evolves. If monkeypox continues to spread and the number of cases grows, more stringent safety measures will be necessary.
It's important to highlight that, despite some voices in the media have said, monkeypox is not exclusive to gay and bisexual men. The virus can affect all people equally, and there are reports of many women and children getting monkeypox.
Monkeypox spreads through ulcers, wounds, and sores. That's why, at the slightest suspicion, it's better to be in quarantine, limit contact as much as possible, and wait to do the relevant test.
The mortality rate for monkeypox is low, with the World Health Organization claiming that it doesn't even pass the 1% of cases. However, it's not clear how many cases would we be talking about if it becomes a global pandemic.
We can't do much, except trust in science. Vaccines (the traditional smallpox vaccine) are already being administered to some groups. Universal vaccination, as has happened with Covid-19, wouldn't be out of the question to protect the general population from monkeypox.