This article is not intended to be medical advice. If you have any questions about monkeypox, consult your doctor or local healthcare professionals.
On Thursday afternoon, the United States government declared a public health emergency over the spread of the monkeypox virus in the United States. To date, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 6,617 cases in the United States. The organization further reports 26,519 cases worldwide in 81 countries that have not historically reported monkeypox.
As of August 2, no monkeypox-related deaths have been reported in the United States, with 9 deaths reported worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the death rate from modern monkeypox has been around 3% to 6%, with different variants of the virus causing more severe symptoms. The disease tends to be more severe in immunocompromised people and children.
The European Centers for Disease Control (ECDC) states that monkeypox infections often begin with a combination of the following symptoms: fever, headache, chills, exhaustion, asthenia, swollen lymph nodes, back pain and muscle aches.
Scientists are alarmed because the disease behaves differently than it did in the past, where outbreaks typically originated from outbreaks within animal populations.
Although the spread of the virus has not quite reached the levels we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, the specter of the coronavirus and early cessations of sports activities like swimming lingers in the minds of many Americans.
Monkeypox is endemic in several countries in Africa, but rapid spread in North America and other countries without high vaccination rates against the disease is of concern. Unlike COVID-19, which spread primarily through respiratory droplets, monkeypox is primarily spread through close contact with an infected person.
While the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) both say that it is possible to contract monkeypox through respiratory secretions, it is most commonly spread through direct contact with the rash or the wounds on the body of an infected person, or in materials that have touched bodily fluids or wounds, such as clothing or linens.
Theoretical spread by respiratory droplets would require close face-to-face contact, according to the CDC. This spread would require “prolonged face-to-face contact”, such as kisses.
Monkeypox “is not known to linger in the air and is not transmitted during short periods of shared airspace”, which is different from COVID-19.
Investigations of the spread of other smallpox viruses, such as the more common molluscum contagiosumshowed that the spread is increased in swimming pools, according to the CDC, but scientists have not yet found evidence of how or under what circumstances this spread might be increased.
Anyone who suspects they have an infection should see their doctor immediately and avoid situations where they could spread the virus.
So what is the risk for swimming and other sports?
In the swimming pool
Experts say that because the monkeypox virus is not waterborne, it is unlikely to spread in a swimming pool (or hot tub), especially a well-maintained pool with appropriate chlorine levels.
Because there is very little person-to-person contact in swimming, and when there usually isn’t long enough to spread the virus, the risk of spread in swimming practices is low, researchers say. current.
Scientists have, however, warned against sharing towels or clothes by the pool, which could have a greater risk of spreading the virus.
Although no specific studies have been done on the spread of monkeypox in swimming pools or spas, depending on the nature of the virus, scientists have concluded that it is “unlikely” that it will occur. propagates in a swimming pool.
In the gym
Dr Jessica Justman, associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, said contracting the virus in the gym is “unlikely”, although it can be spread through bodily fluids such as sweat. There are a number of reasons for this, including that most gym equipment is not very porous, and therefore easy to wipe down with proper cleaning practices which have become standard in gyms to combat the spread of dust. other illnesses like MRSA.
Cleaners and detergents are very effective against monkeypox virus because it is an “enveloped virus”, which means that it is covered with an oily membrane. This fatty membrane is easily broken by cleaning agents, destroying the virus.
More research is needed
Scientists are still studying whether the virus can be spread by an asymptomatic person or how often it spreads through respiratory secretions or sexual transmission.
Although there are modern vaccines specific to monkeypox, because the disease is related to smallpox, the smallpox vaccine is thought to provide some protection against monkeypox. Routine vaccination of the American public against smallpox stopped in 1972.
The latest information from the CDC can be read here.