Richmond-Henrico Health District busts monkeypox myths

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -The Virginia Department of Health is now reporting 213 cases of monkeypox across the commonwealth. The central region has 17 reported cases.

There are still many unknowns about monkeypox. Some people are worried about contracting the virus and don’t know if they are more at risk than others.

The Richmond-Henrico Health District wants to clear up some myths about the disease to put people at ease.

Does getting the smallpox vaccine as a kid protect you against monkeypox?

RHHD says it might provide some level of protection but probably not enough.

“I don’t think we can be sure that that long ago vaccination for smallpox when you were a child is going to provide adequate protection now, so we do advise people who had the smallpox vaccination as a kid, if they are at risk, to go ahead and still get vaccinated,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, the Deputy Director for the Richmond-Henrico Health District.

Is monkeypox considered a sexually transmitted disease or an STI?

The answer? No. While monkeypox is spread through sexual contact, it is not transmitted like other STDs or STIs.

“We don’t have data to suggest that it’s transmitted through semen or things like these. It’s just the close contact that you see during sexual intercourse,” explained Viray.

Is everyone at the same risk of getting infected?

No. Right now, the vast majority of cases have involved men who have sex with other men, have multiple sexual partners, have anonymous sex, or aren’t using protection.

“Right now, we’re seeing transmission in a particular group of folks. That does not mean that folks who aren’t in that group are not at risk at all, but that’s not what we’re seeing in transmission right now,” Viray stated.

Additional information about monkeypox can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website.

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