Worldwide, more than 30,000 cases of monkeypox virus have been reported, including in nations that never saw it coming. India has so far reported nine cases and one fatality. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared the current monkeypox epidemic as a global health emergency. Therefore, ever since this virus outbreak raised an alarm in the world, people have been curious to find out what it is, how it spreads, and how to protect themselves. Although a lot of information is available on monkeypox, being a new virus for everyone, there are several myths about monkeypox that are doing the rounds..

But don’t you worry, because we are here to bust these myths and misconceptions with some hard core facts so that you can properly safeguard yourself.

Health Shots reached out to Dr Charu Dutta Arora, consultant physician and infectious disease specialist at Amerihome Healthcare – Asian Hospital, who helped us to crack these myths about monkeypox with solid facts.

Monkeypox is susceptible to everyone. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dr Dutta says, “Monkeypox has been making headlines for many days, and with thousands of patients across 80 plus countries in the world, this viral infection has spread in India as well. Therefore, it’s very important to create awareness among people.”

Here are 5 myths about the monkeypox virus that need to be busted:

Myth 1: Monkeypox is the new strain of Covid-19

Fact: No, monkeypox belongs to the smallpox family of viruses. Monkeypox and the coronavirus have no connection. It has an absolutely different transmission and life cycle. You won’t catch monkeypox while using public transportation or in a store where you rub up against someone because it is not airborne like Covid.

Even though the number of cases of monkeypox is rising, it’s not showing the fatalities that we experienced in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. That certainly indicates that their monkeypox will not have the same devastating effects as Covid-19. However, the signs and symptoms of the virus are unpleasant and severe.

Also, read: 6 foods for monkeypox recovery and strong immunity

2. Monkeypox is a new virus

Fact: No. It was first discovered in the 1950s in the research of monkeys (hence the name). The first human case was recorded in the year 1970 in the region of Congo in Africa. The virus has been studied in detail, and medical literature has all the information regarding its spread and prevention. Although it typically affects animals, this virus can also infect people. Fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, and weakness are a few of its signs. In more severe cases, a rash may develop on the face and genitalia.

myths about monkeypox
Stay away from an infected person. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Monkeypox affects only gay and bisexual men

Fact: NO. Although this outbreak has symptoms different than previous outbreaks, which include genital lesions, anal pain, rectal and penile swelling, and bleeding from the anus, it is not limited to these sexual orientations. Andy Seale, a WHO expert, states, “As some users on social media have attempted to claim, this is not a gay sickness. Simply said, that is untrue. And anybody can contract monkeypox through close contact.”

Also, read: Monkeypox outbreak: 10 FAQs you must know about this virus

But men who have sex with men and who don’t use protection during sexual intercourse are more prone to this infection. The viral disease is also seen in heterosexuals.

4. There is no treatment for monkeypox infection

Fact: No. In most cases, the monkeypox virus is self-limiting as most of the infection self resolves in 2-4 weeks. In fact, if diagnosed on time, there are treatment strategies against monkeypox. For symptomatic care of the illness, isolation, fluids, hydration, electrolyte maintenance, and antipyretics are sufficient. Paracetamol, antivirals, or other NSAIDs, nutritional support, skincare, eye care, and respiratory support are all used as treatments for fever and pain.

myths about monkeypox
Monkeypox cases continue to rise, so be careful. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Only monkeys spread monkeypox

No. The name monkeypox is a misnomer. It gets its name from the research monkeys from Denmark in 1958, in whom this virus was first isolated. Monkeys have nothing to do with the transmission of this disease. Rather, they can also catch the infection like other primates. Transmission and spread can happen through rodent bites like squirrels.

Now that you are aware of these monkeypox myths, please proceed with caution rather than believing and falling for misconceptions and misinformation.

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