The monkeypox outbreak has grown to include hundreds of cases. What's most alarming is that new cases are being reported in countries where monkeypox is unusual. More than 200 cases of monkeypox were confirmed worldwide outside of countries where it is endemic, according to the European Union's disease agency on May 26. The first reported case in the U.S. was recorded on May 18, when a man from Massachusetts tested positive. However, this is not the first time monkeypox spread in the United States. In 2003, the United States saw a monkeypox outbreak of dozens of cases, all believed to have resulted from exposure to infected prairie dogs and other pets.
Because of the timing of the outbreak (in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic), many social media users have questioned how the virus is transmitted and if there could be a connection to shingles or COVID-19. Some users have suggested that the COVID-19 vaccine could have actually caused the monkeypox outbreak. There is no evidence that there is a connection between COVID-19 and the vaccines authorized to fight it. Monkeypox can’t be transmitted through any vaccine. It can only be spread through direct contact with an infected person or animal. We rate these claims as false.
Monkeypox is a more benign version of the smallpox virus and can be treated with an antiviral drug developed for smallpox. There is no link between monkeypox and shingles.
Shingles is not the same disease as monkeypox, the two diseases are caused by viruses from different families, and they are unlikely to be mistaken for each other based on laboratory tests or physical symptoms, despite online claims that suspected monkeypox cases reported around the world in recent weeks are really shingles episodes.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by reactivation of the dormant Varicella Zoster Virus, which causes chickenpox. Varicella Zoster is a member of the Herpesviruses family, unlike monkeypox, a member of the Poxviruses family, and the rashes caused by the two viruses manifest differently on the skin, experts confirmed to Reuters.
Monkeypox is not spread by anything in the authorized vaccines for COVID-19. Although there is an adenovirus vector in AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, it does not cause disease in humans.
While it is true the AstraZeneca vaccine uses a chimpanzee adenovirus vector in its formula, the virus has been mutated to prevent it from growing in human cells. The role of the vector is to carry the vaccine component into human cells, and it does not establish any sort of infection itself, scientists explained.
“While both adenovirus and monkeypox are DNA viruses, one cannot cause the other,” said Vineeta Bal from Pune’s Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.
The adenovirus vector is used to transport genetic instructions to the body to trigger the production of a spike protein similar to that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Monkeypox is not an autoimmune blistering disease (ABD) and therefore it would not have been referenced when Pfizer released its list of suspected adverse reactions to its COVID-19 vaccine. Monkeypox is an infectious disease, not an ABD.
Newswise spoke with board-certified dermatologist, Esther Freeman, MD, PhD, Director, Global Health Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Associate Director, Center for Global Health on the claims that a growing number of cases of monkeypox are actually just shingles, and the cases are the result of the COVID-19 vaccine. Here's what he has to say...
Monkeypox is a different virus than the herpes zoster virus; zoster is commonly known as shingles. It causes a different type of rash. While these two viruses are not overlapping, we understand that sometimes the lesions can look somewhat similar, which may lead to some confusion.
While both shingles and monkeypox rashes can feel painful, shingles usually stays on one side of the body. shingles also appears in a specific pattern on the skin called a "dermatome". By contrast, the monkeypox rashes can appear on both sides of the body simultaneously and can be seen in the groin, on the face, on the hands, feet, trunk, and extremities. We recommend the public seek care from a board-certified dermatologist who can perform tests that can distinguish between these, and other, rashes.
Monkeypox is not related to the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine protects us from severe COVID-19 and death, and is not related to the monkeypox virus in any way. The two viruses (COVID-19 and the monkeypox virus) are genetically different.
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important public health effort to protect people from severe disease. This is completely separate from the monkeypox outbreak that we’re seeing and is not related. In fact, the first human case of the monkeypox virus was recorded in 1970. It’s not a new virus, and we’ve had outbreaks of monkeypox before. While the United States hasn’t experienced outbreaks on this scale, we do have advantages in fighting monkeypox that we didn’t have with COVID-19. The first is that this is a known, and not a new virus. We already have existing vaccines that work against this virus, and we know how to take care of and treat those who are infected. Monkeypox also appears to be less infectious, e.g., harder to catch than COVID-19.
While it’s important for the public to be aware that monkeypox is happening and to seek care if they develop a new, unexplained rash, particularly fluid filled blisters or pus-filled lesions called pustules, it’s also important not to panic. Most of the rashes that we are seeing at this time are not caused by monkeypox. Those who are concerned should speak with a board-certified dermatologist.”