Meanwhile, The New York Times pushes the airborne narrative.
I wrote about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raising the Travel Alert for Monekypox to 2 and recommending wearing masks to protect against a virus spread chiefly by prolonged contact with infected bodily fluids.
After much mocking, ridicule, and criticism, the CDC removed the mask recommendation.
The CDC last week had added mask-wearing as a precautionary measure for people traveling to countries where monkeypox has been detected. The CDC removed that advice from its website late Monday following social-media posts criticizing the agency for what they called mixed messages over the risk posed by the virus.
A CDC spokeswoman said the agency removed the advice because it caused confusion, but didn’t respond immediately to a request for a more detailed explanation.
The agency, which has been criticized by public-health experts for what some called poorly timed or confusing messages on Covid-19 prevention, continues to recommend masks for people at high risk of contracting monkeypox. That includes people who share a living space with others infected with monkeypox and healthcare workers and others who may be in close contact with confirmed cases, according to the spokeswoman.
Despite the raised alert level, the CDC says the risk to the general public from monkeypox is low.
The agency officials defended the move by stating it was to avoid “confusion.” Whose, they did not say.
“Late yesterday, CDC removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox Travel Health Notice because it caused confusion,” a CDC spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The agency had earlier suggested that travellers wear masks as it can help protect against “many diseases, including monkeypox”.
As per the CDC’s website, while the disease spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, “it also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact”.
Of course, leave it to the New York Times to run the headline: Monkeypox Can Be Airborne, Too
However, the agency still says that in countries where monkeypox is spreading, “household contacts and health care workers” should consider wearing masks. That guideline also applies to “other people who may be in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with monkeypox.”
The turnabout hints at a little-discussed aspect of the current monkeypox outbreak: The virus can be airborne, at least over short distances. While airborne transmission is only a small factor in the overall spread, experts said in interviews, there are no firm estimates regarding how much it contributes.
…In previous outbreaks, a majority of cases were reported in those who had close contact with an infected patient or animal. But in some instances, airborne transmission was the only explanation for the infections.
Elsewhere on its website, the C.D.C. still urges monkeypox patients to wear a surgical mask, “especially those who have respiratory symptoms.” It also asks other household members to “consider wearing a surgical mask” when they are in the presence of the person with monkeypox.
Of course, recommendations to follow in household situations should be different than those for international travel, especially given the mode of transmission for monkeypox.
It is heartening that Americans did not succumb to the latest pandemic hysteria. Lessons have been learned.DONATE
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