(NewsNation) — There have been more rumors than answers explaining the mysterious arrival and spread of monkeypox to non-endemic countries, including that the virus can be traced back to the gay community.
One doctor, however, while on set for Tuesday’s edition of “On Balance with Leland Vittert,” set the record straight.
“That’s not true,” said Dr. Bob Lahita, answering if non-gay men need not worry about the infectious virus.
Lahita is a professor at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine — a private medical school in Nutley, New Jersey — and says that much like smallpox, it only takes intimacy to spread.
“It could be a man and a woman or it could be two women, or it could be two men, but if you’re close enough to have saliva shot into your face, you’ll get it,” Lahita explained.
Explaining further, Lahita says the virus likely didn’t come from a human or monkeys. Discovered in the 1950s and long endemic in other countries, the doctor speculates the virus likely came from a rodent.
“Much like Lyme disease, this thing is beginning to pop out all over … The poxes arrive first and then you get symptoms. It’s rarely a cause of death,” Lahita said.
Lahita also explained that monkeypox is a part of the pox family, of which there are many. In fact, if someone was immunized in the early 70s, or the 60s or 50’s, when smallpox innoculations were routine, they’re likely immune.
However, that also means, as Lahita said, “the young generation has had no immunological exposure to something like a monkeypox.”
The truth of the matter is that health officials are still trying to figure our what’s behind the spread.
Tuesday, the World Health Organization announced they will convene later this month with an emergency committee of experts to determine how the expanding monkeypox outbreak spread outside Africa and whether it should be considered a global health emergency.