Can Monkeypox Spread On Surfaces?

Monkeypox typically spreads through close contact with someone infected with the virus (via Mayo Clinic). The virus can spread through respiratory droplets in the air and through direct contact with the rash, scabs, sores, or bodily fluids of someone infected. Clothing, sheets, and other items that have touched the rash or body fluids of someone infected may also be a source of the virus. Pregnant women may also pass the virus to their fetuses. People can also become infected through scratches or bites from animals with monkeypox. In addition, the virus can even spread through food or products made from infected animals.

To gain a better understanding on how the monkeypox virus survives on surfaces, officials from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services conducted an experiment on items from the home of two people who tested positive for the virus. For their research, they gathered samples from 30 high-contact objects in nine different areas of the home.

Many of the items tested positive for the virus

The research, published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows that the virus was able to survive on many surfaces. Researchers found that 21 items (70%) of the surfaces tested positive for the virus.

Some of the items tested, such as cloth furniture and blankets, were considered porous. All three of the porous items tested positive, and so did 68% of non-porous items, such as handles and switches. Two items (such as chairs) were considered to have mixed surface areas, and one of these items also tested positive.

That said, scientists were unable to detect live virus from the samples gathered from inside the home, suggesting that the virus had weakened over time, as the patients had been isolating for 20 days before samples were gathered. The study noted that the participants' disinfection practices may also have minimized the level of contamination inside their home.

Authors of the study acknowledge that more research is needed. In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people should not visit the homes of people with monkeypox unnecessarily. Individuals who live in or have an essential need to visit the homes of those infected with monkeypox should follow standard safety protocols and wear a well-fitting mask, avoid contact with objects or surfaces that might be contaminated, disinfect the home thoroughly, and wash their hands frequently.