Fact check: Monkeypox continues to spread, despite social media claims it disappeared

The claim: Monkeypox disappeared

In May, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking the number of Americans who test positive for monkeypox. Since then, social media users have made false assertions about everything from the virus' relation to the COVID-19 vaccine to who can contract the monkeypox virus.

Nov. 2 Instagram post makes an even broader assertion.

"So...Monkey Pox Just Disappeared," says the post, which accrued more than 100 likes in five days.

But the claim is baseless. Experts told USA TODAY the virus still exists, and the CDC is still reporting positive cases. The number of cases, though, has dropped from earlier this year due to increased immunity and vaccinations.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment.

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A patient is inoculated with the monkeypox vaccine on Aug. 19, 2022, in New York.
A patient is inoculated with the monkeypox vaccine on Aug. 19, 2022, in New York.

Monkeypox still exists, spreading at a slower rate than its peak

U.S. cases of monekypox have dramatically decreased from their summer peak, according to Dr. Mark Slifka, a vaccinologist at Oregon Health & Science University.

As of Nov. 9, the CDC said there were 23 reported cases in the U.S., a fraction of the case numbers from the summer, when at one point more than 500 Americans had the virus.

But despite that decrease, the virus still exists domestically and internationally, Dr. Scott Roberts, an infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine, told USA TODAY.

Cases began decreasing after public health officials spread the word about how individuals could reduce the risk of infection by changing their behavior,​​​​​ ​​Slifka said. Combing that with rising immunity levels and increased vaccinations led to the reduction in monkeypox numbers, according to Slifka.

It's possible monkeypox could disappear at some point, though, experts say.

Because the virus is less transmissible than other viruses, if individuals continue to reduce their risk by getting vaccinated, there is a chance the virus will run out of new targets and disappear from the global arena, Slifka said.

Roberts agreed.

"There is a decent probability monkeypox will be eradicated in the U.S. given the trajectory things have been going these past few months,” he said.

Fact check: No, a misused photo of shingles does not prove monkeypox is a hoax

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that monkeypox disappeared. While the number of cases has decreased in recent months, according to CDC data, people are still testing positive for monkeypox.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Americans continue to spread monkeypox at reduced rates