Expert weighs in on unusual festival monkeypox case

What does a recent case report of a man who contracted monkeypox at an outdoor festival where he hadn’t engaged in sexual activities tell us about monkeypox transmission? Jorge Luis Salinas has some answers.

Recently, Stanford Medicine researchers published the case report in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

According to the case report, the man had recently attended several crowded outdoor events where he had close, skin-to-skin contact, such as dancing, with multiple people over the course of four days. He didn’t notice any skin lesions or anyone sick among those with whom he came into contact.

Two weeks later, he began to develop skin lesions on his hands, lip, torso, and back. He reported no sexual contact in the three months prior to symptoms.

The 2022 outbreak of monkeypox has been detected in 95 countries, and the virus has infected more than 15,000 Americans. Although the vast majority of cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, the monkeypox virus can be transmitted through close contact that does not involve sex.

Here, Jorge Luis Salinas, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Stanford Medicine and coauthor of the report, explains the significance of the case, what we know and don’t know about monkeypox transmission, and how we should think about our individual risks:

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