Monkeypox can be transmitted by air, scientists warn

Monkeypox can be transmitted by air, scientists warn

Although the disease has been described since the 1970s, the scientific community is still not fully aware of monkeypox. One of the main issues concerns the mode of transmission: contact with fluid from wounds seems to be the most common mode of infection, but there are doubts about sexual and respiratory routes.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that people with monkeypox, close contacts, and health professionals wear masks. According to current information, what is known is that droplet transmission occurs, but not how much it contributes to the spread of the disease.


Most research on this topic deals with smallpox, but as viruses are very similar, it is accepted that monkeypox is transmitted in a similar way. A 2012 study from the University of Maryland in the United States described several cases of airborne infections.

In previous smallpox epidemics in New York and Germany, patients became infected by being in the same hospital as someone who was ill, suggesting the virus traveled through the building’s air currents.

The outbreak of monkeypox in Nigeria in 2017 showed similar characteristics: cases of transmission in prison and infections were observed in two health workers who had no contact with the patients.


“Most people think that smallpox is usually transmitted by large droplets, but for some reason it can occasionally be transmitted by small particle aerosols,” virologist Mark Challberg said in an interview with the New York Times.

At a news conference Wednesday (August 6th), the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was still much to learn about monkeypox, but studies were being conducted to determine exactly how it was transmitted.

“The primary form is skin to skin. As for other modes of transmission, we need more research. It is important to remember that wounds also occur on the mucous membranes, including the mouth, and therefore the use of masks is recommended. Whether there is an aerosol transmission, we still don’t know, “said Rosamund Lewis, the technical leader of the monkeypox entity.

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