Can monkeypox virus spread on clothing or grocery items? An expert weighs in

How is monkeypox spread? CDC says virus spreads through direct contact or by touching some objects, fabrics, surfaces

ByElaina Athans via WTVD logo
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Could you get monkeypox by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by someone who is infected? Yes, but the risk is low.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tiana Galloway said fears about monkeypox are changing her spending habits and, more importantly, the things she's touching.

"That's my biggest concern shopping in the grocery store," she said.

The Raleigh, North Carolina resident worries the virus could be present on items such as clothing.

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"I often think about thrifting clothing, because that's trendy now, but it's concerning because these are clothes that people have worn. You never know. And at the store, they don't wash (them) after people try them on," said Galloway.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says monkeypox can spread through direct contact or by touching objects, fabrics and surfaces used by someone who is infected.

Dr. David Wohl, a UNC Health infectious disease expert, said that though that can occur, the risk is low.

"I don't think I would worry too much about these very casual encounters with inanimate objects. You're not going to catch this at a restaurant. You're not going to catch this off of a park bench. Trying on clothes I would say that's pretty unlikely. You would have to have somebody, who right before you tried on clothes, who had lesions with monkeypox virus," said Wohl.

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The population most affected right now by monkeypox is men who have sex with other men and their sexual partners.

Wohl warned that will likely change.

"It's not going to stay in the lane it is right now, and so we should be prepared," he said. "I think the No. 1 concern I have is, like staph infections or like MRSA infections, where we start to see this in daycares, where we start to see this in athletes, in wrestlers, where the body would have skin-to-skin contact."