Monkeypox, a virus similar to smallpox, has been spreading rapidly in recent weeks in the United States, particularly among men who have sex with men. On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency. The Biden administration declared a public health emergency for the United States monkeypox outbreak on Thursday, two months after cases of the disease started appearing in the country.
As with the recent COVID-19 epidemic, social media has been rife with people sharing information on this infectious disease. One viral tweet that has been shared by over thousands of people is from a person who expressed dismay that the virus can spread by "touching someone else’s clothing." Is this true? We rate this claim as mostly true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that monkeypox can be transmitted by "touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox." However, it is much more likely to spread through intimate contact. Transmission from objects (such as clothes or fabric from furniture) mainly occurs when fluids from lesions fall onto fabrics used extensively by an infected person. “You need prolonged contact with clothing to spread the monkeypox virus. Casual contact is not spreading the disease,” says Catherine Troisi, PhD, an infectious disease epidemiologist with UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston.
Andrew Lee, professor of public health at the University of Sheffield in the U.K, told Newsweek that yes, the virus can spread "through contact with contaminated clothing, linen used by an infected person."
"Although I think direct contact with the infected skin lesions probably pose a higher risk," Lee said.
Similarly, Connor Bamford, research fellow in virology and antiviral immunity at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, told Newsweek that it is possible, however it is not a "major mode of transmission," particularly for the epidemic outside of Africa.