Can monkeypox spread on clothing or grocery items? An expert weighs in

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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Could you get monkeypox by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by someone who is infected? Yes, but the risk is low.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tiana Galloway said fears about monkeypox are changing her spending habits and more importantly, the things she's touching.

"That's my biggest concern--shopping in the grocery store," she said.

The Raleigh resident worries the virus could present on items such as clothing.

"I often think about thrifting clothing, because that's trendy now, but it's concerning because these are clothes that people have worn. You never know and at the store, they don't wash (them) after people try them on," said Galloway.

The CDC says monkeypox can spread through direct contact or by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces used by someone who is infected.

UNC Health Infectious Disease Expert Dr. David Wohl said that though that can occur, the risk is low.

"I don't think I would worry too much about these very casual encounters with inanimate objects. You're not going to catch this at a restaurant. You're not going to catch this off of a park bench. Trying on clothes I would say that's pretty unlikely. You would have to have somebody, who right before you tried on clothes, who had lesions with monkeypox virus," said Wohl.

RELATED: 7 ways to reduce your risk of monkeypox

The population most affected right by monkeypox is men who have sex with other men and their sexual partners.

Wohl warned that will likely change.

"It's not going to stay in the lane it is right now and so we should be prepared," he said. "I think the No. 1 concern I have is, like staph infections or like MRSA infections, where we start to see this in daycares, where we start to see this in athletes, in wrestlers, where the body would have skin-to-skin contact."

The Wake County Health Department does have a limited supply of the monkeypox vaccine and is offering it to those who may have been exposed.

RELATED: NCDHHS reveals its 2022 Monkeypox response plan

A total of 111 cases have been reported in North Carolina.

Learn more about monkeypox at the CDC's site or at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.