Some people on social media have falsely claimed that monkeypox is a disease exclusive to LGBTQ people. Anyone can contract it through close contact.
The first case of monkeypox was reported in the United States this year on May 18, and hundreds of new cases have been reported across the world.
Monkeypox is usually found in Africa, and rare cases in the United States and elsewhere are usually linked to travel to the continent. The disease originates in wild animals like rodents and primates that live in tropical rainforest climates like those of central and western Africa.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) top monkeypox expert has said she doesn’t expect the hundreds of cases reported worldwide so far to turn into another pandemic , but acknowledged that there are still many unknowns about the disease, including exactly how it spreads.
Some of the recorded cases involve men who have sex with men, WHO experts sayand they warn people to be careful.
Several VERIFY viewers also reached out to ask questions about monkeypox and its connection to LGBTQ people.
Is monkeypox a “gay disease” exclusive to LGBTQ people?
No, the virus is not exclusive to LGBTQ people. Anyone can catch it through close physical contact with an infected person.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Monkeypox is transmitted when a person comes into close contact with the virus from an animal, human, or material contaminated with the virus.
The virus enters the body through damaged skin (even if it is not visible), the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth). Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through close physical contact with bodily fluids, respiratory droplets, broken skin, or recently contaminated objects, the CDC and World Health Organization say.
Most patients infected with monkeypox have fever, skin rash and swollen lymph nodes, According to WHO. The rash tends to stay concentrated on the face and extremities, but can spread all over the body in more severe cases.
RELATED: 4 Fast Facts About Monkeypox
Monkeypox is rare and anyone can get infected, Ilhem Messaoudi, Ph.D., told VERIFY. Messaoudi is a professor and chair of the department of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics at the University of Kentucky.
“Monkeypox is a disease that knows no gender, race or sexual orientation,” Messaoud said. “This is an infectious disease, viruses and pathogens don’t care about any of that.”
In a public session on May 31, Dr Rosamund Lewis of the WHO said it was essential to point out that the vast majority of cases seen in dozens of countries around the world were in gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.
She warned that anyone is potentially at risk of contracting the disease, regardless of sexual orientation. Other experts have pointed out that it could be accidental for the disease to spread among gay and bisexual men, saying it could quickly spread to other groups if left unchecked.
The WHO has published « Public health advice for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with menbut warned of harmful stigmas that suggest the disease is linked to sexual orientation.
“Some cases have been identified in sexual health clinics in communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. It is important to note that the risk of monkeypox is not limited to men with sex with men Anyone who is in close contact with an infectious person is at risk,” the WHO says.
John Brooks, MD, of the CDC, told The Associated Press, “Infectious diseases don’t care about borders or social networks. Certain groups may have a greater chance of exposure right now, but the current risk of monkeypox exposure is by no means exclusive to men who have sex with men.
UNAIDS, a United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, urging media, governments and communities to respond with an evidence-based approach that avoids stigma.
“Stigma and blame undermine trust and the ability to respond effectively during outbreaks like this,” Matthew Kavanagh, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, said in the statement. “Experience shows that stigmatizing rhetoric can quickly disable an evidence-based response by fueling cycles of fear, driving people away from health services, hampering case identification efforts and encouraging ineffective punitive measures. “.
“This outbreak highlights the urgent need for leaders to strengthen pandemic prevention, including building community-led capacity and human rights infrastructure to support effective, non-stigmatizing responses to outbreaks.” , the statement said.
There is currently no specific treatment available for monkeypox infection, but outbreaks of monkeypox can be controlled, the CDC says. The smallpox vaccine could be given during an epidemic, and in 2019 the Food and Drug Administration approved a monkeypox vaccine.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.