The MONKEYPOX virus can stick stubbornly to surfaces touched by an infected person, a study has found.
The life-threatening disease can cling to household items in a patient’s home even after thorough cleaning – but there is no evidence that you can catch smallpox yourself from touching infected objects.
Most of the samples in the experiment – 21 out of 30 – tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with infected people, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The experiment investigated a house of Utah where two monkeypox patients lived alongside other uninfected people.
Investigators took 30 household items from nine different areas of the house, while the two patients were still symptomatic and therefore actively spreading their infection.
The scientists tested two types of objects – labeling soft surfaces that could absorb liquid like clothing or furniture “porous”, and hard surfaces like handles and switches “non-porous”.
Both types of objects were found to carry monkeypox even after cleaning and disinfection.
All three “porous” surfaces tested positive, while 17 of the 25 “non-porous” items showed traces of virus.
Only one item – the oven knobs – was negative and the other samples were inconclusive.
But despite the evidence of monkeypox on these household items, not a single sample was culture-positive for the virus – meaning the disease was not “alive” and could not infect other people. .
None of the other household members picked up the sicknessscientists therefore do not know how much of a risk this finding poses to others sharing space with monkeypox patients.
The virus is mainly spread through physical contact, which means you are more likely to catch monkeypox if you directly touch another person.
Although the evidence of the Thumbtack sticking to household objects seems troubling, the finding might not pose a threat if the virus doesn’t survive long enough on those surfaces to spread to other people.
The CDC report said, “Monkeypox virus DNA was detected from numerous sampled objects and surfaces, indicating that some level of contamination has occurred in the home environment.
“The inability to detect viable virus suggests that virus viability may have degraded over time or by chemical or environmental inactivation.”
He added: “Their cleaning and disinfection practices during this time may have limited the level of contamination within the household.”
Hopefully scientific research will help control the spread of monkeypox across the world.
Currently, around 20 bug cases are detected every day in the UK, up from 35 a week ago.
The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) indicates there are 3,081 confirmed cases in the UK – with a further 114 highly likely infections.
Homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men are at higher risk of infection with monkeypox.
Dr William Welfare, incident director at UKHSA, said: “While the most recent data suggests that the growth of the epidemic has slowed, we continue to see new cases every day.
“Although anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of monkeypox cases in the UK continue to be gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the infection being mainly transmitted by close contact in interconnected sexual networks.
“Please continue to be aware of symptoms, including rashes and blisters, particularly if you have recently had a new sexual partner.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the rise in cases a public health emergency, with strokes deployed to those most at risk.
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