Monkeypox Less Serious, Harder to Catch than COVID


Last updated 7/24/2022 at 6:45pm | View PDF

The monkeypox virus is a completely different virus than the viruses that cause COVID-19 or measles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It is not known to linger in the air and is not transmitted during short periods of shared airspace. Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with body fluids or sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or with direct contact with materials that have touched body fluids or sores, such as clothing or linens.

It may also spread through respiratory secretions when people have close, face-to-face contact.

In the current monkeypox outbreak, the CDC reports that those with the disease generally describe close, sustained physical contact with other people who are infected with the virus. However, other possible modes of transmission, such as through semen, are being studied.

Prior studies of monkeypox outbreaks show that spread of monkeypox virus by respiratory secretions appears uncommon. Most cases of monkeypox report close contact with an infectious person. While it is still unclear what role direct physical contact has versus the role of respiratory secretions, in instances where people who have monkeypox have travelled on airplanes, no known cases of monkeypox occurred in people seated around them, even on long international flights.

Less of a Threat to Seniors

"Monkeypox can be more serious in children, rather than individuals over the age of 65," said Dr. Karen Haught, public health officer for Tulare County. "Individuals over 65 likely had the smallpox vaccine when they were young and would have some degree of protection from that vaccine against monkeypox."

However, she added that the risk factors for being exposed would be the same for seniors as for other adults.

"The CDC is a great resource for information," she said. "The California Department of Public Health also provides information online at"


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