Some concerned Filipinos debunked circulating claims about monkeypox’s method of transmission online.
The Department of Health on Friday, July 29 detected the country’s first case of the contagious illness—a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from overseas on July 19.
The patient previously visited countries with documented cases of monkeypox.
The news immediately triggered public alarm and confusion online, especially about how it can infect humans.
Some Filipinos, including TV host Kim Atienza, claimed that monkeypox can only be transmitted via sexual contact.
Atienza was called out for his tweet and was accused of spreading false information online. He soon deleted it and issued an apology after.
Ariel Rojas, a resident meteorologist of ABS-CBN, stressed on Twitter that monkeypox is not a type of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) following DOH’s announcement.
Rojas also advised against stigmatizing the disease that could pose further harm to the public.
“Monkeypox is neither an STD nor a gay disease. DOH, in its statement yesterday, emphasized that ANYONE MAY GET MONKEYPOX,” he said.
“Warn. Do not stigmatize and harm,” he added.
Rojas also further said that monkeypox is “everybody’s concern.”
“Framing monkeypox as a disease that only affects a specific group makes the general public lax and complacent. Monkeypox is everybody’s concern,” he said.
Arshie Larga, a pharmacist and TikTok creator, also released a video clip about monkeypox.
Mga Dapat nyong Malaman Tungkol sa Monkeypox🦠 pic.twitter.com/mqXNixQOdI
— Arshie Larga (@Arshiethromycin) July 30, 2022
In the video, Larga stated that given their genetic similarities, monkeypox and smallpox have similar symptoms.
“Pero mas mild ang sa monkeypox at bihirang nakakamatay,” he said.
By the end of the video, Larga also further stated that monkeypox is not an STD. He noted that any individual can get infected with it.
“Ang monkeypox po ay hindi sexually transmitted disease. At kahit sino po sa atin ay pwedeng magkaron nito,” he said.
Former vice president Leni Robredo, meanwhile, helped share awareness about the symptoms and method of transmission of monkeypox to her followers on social media.
In the midst of the dangers posed by monkeypox, we are asking the public to share only verified information about the disease, to listen to public health experts, and cooperate with authorities and our community to ensure our collective safety. pic.twitter.com/CslbizfwRx
— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) August 1, 2022
In the infographics, it was emphasized that the disease can’t be transferred through sexual contact alone.
“Ito ay maaaring makuha sa pamamagitan ng pag-ubo o direct contact sa balat, dugo, laway at iba pang body fluids ng mga taong kumpirmadong may monkeypox. Maaari rin itong makuha mula sa mga bagay o surface na maaaring kontaminado ng monkeypox,” it said.
“Hindi ito sexually transmitted disease na maaari lamang maipasa sa pamamagitan ng pakikipagtalik,” it added.
So far, experts reportedly stated that it is spread mainly through close contact or skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal.
DOH also stated that it is transmitted via the following activities:
- Close contact with an infected person or animal (wounds, body fluids, respiratory droplets)
- Contact with contaminated materials
Late last month, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency to spur global action in containing it.
Scientists have yet to determine the cause for the sudden surge in monkeypox infections in other countries that historically have never been affected by it.