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Fact Check-False claims CDC classified monkeypox as ‘airborne’ and a form of herpes stem from fake post impersonating BBC News

Posts shared widely on Facebook falsely claim that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified monkeypox virus as an “airborne” virus, that the disease is a form of herpes, that infection lasts for months, and that it can cause paralysis.

The false posts, containing an image bearing a BBC News logo and a source line crediting the information to the World Health Organization, include the claim, “CDC has now classified this disease as airborne and anyone within 15 feet can catch it.” (here) (here).

The images have been shared nearly 1,400 times and garnered comments including, “How true is this I need answers??” Another reads, in part, “They trying to scare us to take more vaccine shots. Only way it can spread is through contact from someone who has it , kissing,sex, cuddling.”

The BBC did not make the graphic, a spokesperson confirmed to Reuters, adding that users are urged to “check the veracity of stories” attributed to the news agency on the official BBC News website (www.bbc.com/news).

The CDC also has not designated monkeypox a virus that spreads by “airborne” transmission. Current CDC guidance on the agency’s website, updated July 29, 2022, describes the ways the virus can spread from person-to-person (here).

Transmission is mainly by skin-to-skin contact, and “direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox,” according to CDC. “Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox,” can also transmit the virus. Contact with so-called respiratory secretions, such as mucus and saliva in coughs and sneezes, can also transmit the disease, though researchers are still studying how often that happens and under what conditions, the CDC text notes.

Reuters has previously fact-checked claims that monkeypox virus spreads via “airborne” transmission of tiny aerosolized droplets that can linger in the air for extended periods and travel longer distances than the larger droplets in coughs and sneezes (here).

Experts agreed that close-range contact with “respiratory secretions” are a likely way the virus can transmit, but that there is no evidence the droplets containing virus become aerosolized or “airborne” (here).

Monkeypox virus belongs to the larger viral family known as poxviridae, and the subgroup, or genus, known as poxviruses, with 12 species, including smallpox, cowpox, and the vaccinia virus used in vaccines (here). Herpes belongs to a different viral family, the herpesviridae, which includes herpes simplex 1 and 2, as well as varicella zoster virus, which causes both chickenpox and shingles (here).

While herpes viruses tend to linger in the body for a lifetime, sometimes causing flare-ups like “cold sores” or shingles episodes, the monkeypox virus runs its course in two to four weeks, according to the CDC (here). Symptoms tend to appear within three weeks of exposure and include a distinctive rash, as well as flu-like illness such as fever, chills, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, headache, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. Paralysis has not been associated with monkeypox infection (CDC says this?).

VERDICT

False. The graphic is fabricated and the claims it contains are false. BBC News did not create the shared graphic, CDC has not categorized monkeypox as “airborne,” the virus and the illness it causes are not “a form of herpes,” and monkeypox infection is not associated with paralysis.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here . 

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