Survey Finds 19% Americans Fear Getting Monkeypox Yet Know Little About Infection

Results also show that nearly half are not sure whether a vaccine exists, and a large majority know that the disease spreads through close contact.

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans are concerned about contracting monkeypox in the next 3 months, compared with approximately 1 in 3 who are worried about getting COVID-19, according to the results of an Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) national survey.

Monkeypox, a disease endemic to parts of Africa, has spread to 75 countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency on July 23, 2022.

“It is critically important that public health professionals offer anxious individuals accurate information about the ways in which this virus is transmitted and infection prevented. Vaccinating those who are at highest risk should be a national priority,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, PhD, director of the APPC, said in a statement.

Investigators surveyed 1580 adults in the United States by SSRS for the APPC of the University of Pennsylvania between July 12 and July 18, 2022, which became the seventh wave of an Annenberg Science Knowledge survey, whose respondents were first contacted in April 2021.

The study results indicated that approximately 80% of individuals had come across information about monkeypox in the past month, but many were uneducated about the disease.

Investigators found that 19% of Americans were worried about getting monkeypox in the next 3 months, while 30% of those surveyed were worried about getting COVID-19.

Approximately 14% of survey participants said they are somewhat worried about getting monkeypox in the next 3 months, and 5% said they are very worried, while 81% are not too worried or not worried at all.

Approximately 48% are unsure whether monkeypox is less contagious than COVID-19, and approximately 66% either are not sure or do not think that there is a monkeypox vaccine.

Investigators found that more women are worried about contracting monkeypox than men. However, a vast majority of cases to date in the United States are among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Cases outside Africa have been mainly among MSM, but there is no evidence to suggest that it will only affect those groups, according to the statement.

Additionally, approximately 69% of survey respondents said they know that monkeypox is spread by close contact. Approximately 66% of Americans do not know whether a vaccine for monkeypox exists or do not think there is one.

Approximately 34% know that a vaccine for monkeypox exists, with an FDA licensed vaccine to prevent monkeypox infection and a vaccine licensed for smallpox, which is also available to prevent monkeypox infections, according to the statement.

Further, approximately 14% said that they think that monkeypox is just as contagious as COVID-19, and 48% said they were unsure.

Monkeypox occurs through close face-to-face contact or direct contact with an infected individual or material that have touched body fluids or sores, , according to the statement.

Therefore, COVID-19, which can linger in the air, is more contagious than monkeypox.

There were approximately 2900 cases of monkeypox reported in the United States as of June 22, 2022, and more than 16,000 cases d been reported in 75 countries, according to the statement.

Reference

Survey finds 1 in 5 Americans fear getting monkeypox, but many know little about it. News release. EurekAlert. July 29, 2022. Accessed August 2, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/960314