Monkey pox: beware, these 4 pieces of information are fake news


Monkeypox continues to progress, with more than 18,000 cases detected worldwide outside Africa, according to the WHO. In France, nearly 2,500 people have been infected. With the increase in cases, the number of false information is exploding, especially on social networks. We take stock.

The monkeypox epidemic is gaining momentum and bringing with it a increasing number of false information about the disease. If the first theories evoked the responsibility of the billionaire Bill Gates in the appearance of the virus or his link with the Covid-19, they today concern more the lifespan of this virus, a remedy to treat it or the fact that this epidemic would simply not exist.

On July 27, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on all platforms that could convey this false information (social networks, media, etc.) to work with the institution to “preventing and combating harmful information“on monkeypox, for”as for the Covid-19 […] the misinformation spreads quickly online“. Here are the main fake news that have been shared so far.

Monkeypox could linger for decades (even hundreds of years) on surfaces

Could the Monkeypox virus stay on door handles and toilet bowls for 120 years? This is what a supposed article in the Irish newspaper allegedly claimed. Thejournal.ie, widely shared on social media. His title ? “Monkeypox can live for 120 years on doorknobs and toilet bowls, and infect anyone five miles away“. Having gone viral, it triggered strong reactions from Internet users. Nevertheless, according to Reuters, impossible to get hold of this article, neither from a Google search, nor on Twitter. A spokesperson for the newspaper even confirmed to the American press agency that such an article had in fact not never been written.

And if contact with contaminated objects can indeed be a source of infection, no evidence has been made regarding such a long lifespan of the virus on the same surface. Furthermore, “closer contact than with Covid-19 is necessary to be infected”said Olivier Schwartz, director of the Virus and Immunity unit at the Institut Pasteur at France Info. “The probability of an airborne infection exists, but the risks are greater with saliva or postilions than with aerosols”he continued.

Known antibiotic could cure monkeypox in just two days

Shared from the start of the epidemic, this false information persists on social networks. According to Twitter posts, the doxycycline – antibiotic commonly prescribed to treat acne or Lyme disease – would cure monkeypox in 48 hours. But she would have beenoddly“prohibited by the French Ministry of Health.

These two pieces of information are obviously completely false. First, doxycycline is an antibiotic: it fights bacteria, not against viruses. “There is no evidence in the literature to suggest that doxycycline is a treatment for monkeypox“, assured Yannick Simonin, researcher at Inserm, at theAFP. This would in fact be a misinterpretation of a study published in The Lancet in 2019, which indicates that a patient with monkeypox was relieved by the administration of doxycycline. But the doctors initially thought that the patient was suffering from vesicular rickettsiosis, a disease close to monkeypox caused by a bacterium, hence the antibiotic. After his symptoms worsened, he was eventually diagnosed with monkeypox and his treatment was then updated.

Regarding the ban on doxycycline in France, this is also completely false. The “conspiratorial” publications actually refer to a decree of May 25 authorizing “the use of vaccines in the context of the care of at-risk contacts of a person infected with the Monkeypox virus“, “by way of derogation“and to the extent that”no prophylactic treatment is currently authorized for people exposed to Monkeypox virus“.

To date, the doxycycline is not being studied to treat monkeypox. However, a recent study has shown that taken directly after unprotected sex, it can significantly reduce the risk of contracting three STIs: gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

Patients mix with the crowd without isolating themselves

A few days ago, an image made the rounds of the Spanish media. It showed the legs of a man in the Madrid metro. The problem ? They were covered with pimples, such as those caused by monkeypox. The person who shared the photo presents himself as a doctor and claims to have discussed the so-called patient. He would have confirmed his infection and indicated that his doctor had not prescribed isolation, only the wearing of a mask.

Found (and recognizable thanks to his tattoo), the man present in the photo restored the facts and told the Spanish media that he did not have monkeypox but rather a genetic disease, neurofibromatosis, which is not contagious. He also confirmed to 20 Minutes Spanish never spoke to this man. His Twitter account and tweets have since been deleted and no longer exist.

A virus that does not exist?

This is a great classic of false information, which the Covid-19 has also faced. Some Internet users have indeed considered that the reuse of old photos was proof that monkeypox was a fake disease. Indeed, if they are re-shared, it is because there are no photos of recent infections and therefore the infections do not exist.

Or, la monkey pox is not a recent disease. It was not discovered in 2022, but rather in 1958, and since then cases have been recorded in several countries around the world. As early as 2003, several cases were confirmed in the United States, marking the first epidemic outside Africa. In 2018-2019, cases were identified in the United Kingdom, Israel or Singapore. The media can therefore use press agency photos taken on these dates.

Sources :

  • With the spread of monkeypox, misinformation is on the rise, France InterAugust 4, 2022
  • Fact Check-Screenshot purporting to show TheJournal.ie article on monkeypox is digitally altered, ReutersJuly 27, 2022
  • No, doxycycline is not a treatment for monkeypox and has not been banned in France, AFP FactualJune 1, 2022
  • The protagonist of the viral in the subway denies the man who accused him of lack of protection: “I neither have monkeypox nor did I speak with him”, 20 minutesAugust 2, 2022

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