Can you catch monkeypox from gym equipment? Experts consider the scenario “unlikely”.

How worried should we be about contracting monkeypox through gym equipment? Experts explain. (Getty Images)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of monkeypox in the U.S. are still increasing exponentially, from 2,891 on July 27 to 4,639 on July 22, and the World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern.” ” announced. and more people are wondering how to avoid contracting the virus.

One way, especially for gay or bisexual men, who currently make up 95% of those infected, is to temporarily limit the number of sexual partners they have, according to new advice from the WHO this week.

However, although monkeypox is mainly spread through close physical contact between people, it is not an STD (sexually transmitted disease) because it is not spread exclusively through sex. Anyone can be infected, including children, because it is transmitted to the fetus through body fluids, including sweat, saliva, and the placenta, and through skin abscesses that carry the virus – through face-to-face contact, as well as through surfaces such as towels and sheets. The resulting symptoms usually include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes, all of which may precede or coincide with skin rashes or pustules.

The vaccine — the FDA-approved two-dose Jynneos — has limited, though no data on its effectiveness, according to the CDC.

But as noted at a recent Los Angeles LGBT Center Anti-Monkey Workshop, there’s another concern: gyms, yoga studios and other group exercise spaces, sweaty and shared settings, said the LGBT Center’s medical director of research and education. Dr. Robert Bolan called it a “very clear possibility” that the virus would spread.

“Monkey pox is an extremely hardy virus…and it is known to survive on bedding, clothing and environmental surfaces, especially in dark and cool conditions, for two weeks or more,” Bolan added. “So I think it’s really important to pay attention to environmental surfaces, like gym surfaces and, you know, exercise benches and mats — things that are completely porous … or things that are semi-porous and use disinfectant wipes or other household cleaning products.” I think it’s effective when used correctly.

People are queuing outside the sports center.

People line up to get a monkeypox vaccine in Los Angeles this week. (Robin Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

What else do we know about monkeypox and the gym? Yahoo Life reached out to the experts for more details.

Gyms are possible, but “unlikely” routes of transmission

Dr. Jessica Justman, an associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, says it’s “unlikely” for a variety of reasons, including that unlike linen, gym gear is “not very porous” and therefore easier to clean. the virus is disabled – something that is happening “more than ever now” due to COVID-19 protocols.

Notably, according to Justman, the monkeypox virus is an “enveloped virus,” meaning that “each virus particle is coated with an oily membrane that is easily broken by detergents and other cleaning agents. Longer infectious.”

Adding to the low risk factor here, he explains, is that the most contagious places for this virus are sores or pustular lesions, which are “located in the genitals.” Therefore, for this type of wound transmission to occur through a gym mat, for example, “a person with monkeypox first exercises on a mat wearing clothing that does not cover the wound. This person exercises on the mat. Finally, the second person is too small to come into direct contact with the mat.” He only wears clothes and works out on a mat.”

Adds Justman: “It’s very difficult to imagine this complex scenario.”

NBC News recently charted what has become a widespread risk assessment of monkeypox in Chicago, citing officials from the Chicago Department of Public Health who called the gym facilities (along with public restrooms) “not suspicious” and “not likely.” cases have already been reported.”

However, careful cleaning is very important

Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at George Mason University’s Ball School of Policy and the government’s biosecurity program, emphasizes the resilience of the monkeypox virus. “We now know that it can survive on surfaces for up to 15 days, while other orthopoxviruses can survive for longer periods of time, months. The challenge for us is to understand the dynamics of survival and transmission when it comes to linen pores and clothing.” emphasizes the importance of proper cleaning and disinfection protocols.

According to a spokesperson for IHRSA, the Global Health and Fitness Association, a nonprofit organization that counts thousands of gyms and other fitness facilities among its members, “Health clubs’ top priority is to provide a healthy and safe environment for their members. Stay active.” and promote their health. IHRSA encourages health clubs to maintain a clean and safe environment at all times. We expect clubs to regularly wipe down equipment and surfaces, and provide members and consumers with adequate sanitation to clean surfaces before and after use. Every night deep cleaning helps prevent the spread of viruses. It’s standard practice to have hand sanitizing stations everywhere to kill bacteria and germs. And of course, it’s important for staff and employees to wash their hands regularly.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the spokesperson added, IHRSA initiated the industry’s commitment to global health and safety by introducing best practices for cleaning and disinfection.

Fortunately, Popescu points out, non-porous surfaces, including gym equipment and bedding, are easier to clean quickly and properly than porous ones, such as sheets. It still offers disposable items whenever possible, such as personal yoga mats that people can take from home. However, he notes, touching such things “is not as dangerous as close, prolonged contact with a sick person.”

So what about playground equipment and supplies?

“Honestly, as someone with an infectious disease,” says Popescu, “you’ll never hear me say you don’t need to clean that equipment—it’s very touchy and kids carry germs!” Still, the risk is low now, but that could change “if more pediatric cases are identified,” he says. (Many pediatric cases have been reported in the United States, and both may be transmitted through households from affected adults.)

“I think we need to focus on risk contact and routines, constant cleaning/disinfection for overall health,” says Popescu, adding that while advice on cleaning and sanitizing surfaces is reminiscent of the early days of COVID, there’s a key difference.

“We know a lot more about monkeypox and we have decades to understand it,” he says of the virus, which was first recorded in humans in 1970. “But there are still gaps – traditionally we’ve dealt with it mostly in healthcare settings. Our experience and protocols reflect that. We need more recommendations for the public to process things like clothing and bedding in hotels or stores.”

But more importantly, Popescu adds: “We have to say that the risk is still low and that we are not flying blind – we have room for improvement, but we understand the disease better than the new virus that causes COVID-19.”

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