Will Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Monkeypox tweet another misconception about sexually transmitted infections?

On July 23, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) posted a question on Twitter about monkeypox. The real question, however, is what kind of answer she was looking for when she asked such a question. His tweet read: “If monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease, why do children get it? and included a video featuring Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The video was a Walensky clip washington post live interview I covered for Forbes earlier today where Walensky mentioned that there are now two cases of children in the United States testing positive for the monkeypox virus. This revelation then provided Taylor Greene with a launching pad for her question about the tweet.

Although the answer Taylor Greene may have been looking for is unclear, the correct answer would be that monkeypox is not a “sexually transmitted disease” like syphilis or gonorrhea. Telling your partner you caught gonorrhea from someone while insisting you haven’t had sex with that person might elicit a skeptical “Whatcha talkin bout” look. The same should not necessarily be true with the monkeypox virus. There are many no The World Health Organization (WHO) clearly states on its website that “human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person, or objects recently infected. respiratory droplet particles typically require prolonged face-to-face contact, putting health care workers, household members, and other close contacts of active cases at higher risk.

Humans are not the only ones who can transmit the virus to you. Other animals can also do so through “direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids or skin or mucous membrane lesions of infected animals”, according to the WHO. So another risk could be spending too much time participating in group hugs with rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian rats, dormice, monkeys, or any other animals that carry the monkeypox virus.

Again, none of these aforementioned transmission possibilities require any type of sexual contact. In fact, prior to this current monkeypox epidemic, most documented cases of human monkeypox since the first in 1971 did not appear to result from sexual contact with an infected person.

All of this does not mean that monkeypox virus transmission cannot occur during sex. Indeed, prolonged close physical contact is usually part of sex. You don’t tend to have sex with someone else and then hope to meet them one day in person. Many different things can happen throughout the close physical contact involved in sex, such as breathing in the other person’s respiratory droplets or accidentally touching the other person’s sores.

Calling anything a sexually transmitted disease can have heavy connotations. That’s why you can’t tell other people you’ve had a sexually transmitted infection when you catch a cold or the flu during sex. Labeling monkeypox a “sexually transmitted disease” right now is probably a premature statement. Sure tests found monkeypox virus DNA in semen and feces, as I covered for Forbes. But finding monkeypox DNA in certain bodily fluids can be like finding One Direction’s clothes on stage. It’s not the same as finding the live version. DNA alone cannot cause infections without the rest of the virus, just like One Direction’s clothes alone cannot sing and dance. Further studies are needed to determine if the virus can indeed be transmitted through bodily fluids specifically exchanged during sex.

One of the consequences of calling monkeypox a sexually transmitted disease has led people to mistakenly believe that they cannot catch the virus until they have sex with an infected person. In fact, in his July 22 article for Forbes, Victoria Forster, PhD, pointed out that some headlines and public health messages may have inadvertently suggested that the only people at risk for monkeypox are men who have sex with men, which, of course, isn’t. is simply not true. Forster quoted Chloe Orkin, MD, PhD, a physician and professor of HIV/AIDS medicine at Queen Mary University of London, as stressing that it’s “important not to make people think it’s about a disease that can only be contracted by gay and bisexual men. , because it is not.

So the risk of Taylor Greene’s Twitter question without further elaboration or qualification is that it may reinforce the misconception that monkeypox is somehow just a threat to and from a particular community. It certainly wasn’t the first time Taylor Greene had offered her opinion on infectious disease issues. For example, she used the term “medical brownshirts” to describe the Covid-19 vaccination campaign while probably not referring to UPS, wondered why schools hadn’t been closed to prevent the cancer after Covid-19 caused schools to close, claimed that the CDC does not recommend four polio vaccines when in fact they do, and on June 4, 2021, sent a letter to the US President Joe Biden demanding answers on Covid-19 by June 31, 2021. Of course, June 31, 2021, has happened again, so there may still be time for Biden to respond.

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