The screenshot of an article, purportedly from Irish news publication TheJournal.ie, has gone viral on the internet with a headline, "Monkeypox can live on door handles and toilet seats for 120 years and can infect anyone from 5 miles away."
However, we found that not only was the screenshot fake, but the claims made in the post were also false. The publication has clarified that it never published such an article on monkeypox.
According to research available on monkeypox, while it is possible for people to catch the virus by touching surfaces, clothes, and linens used by infected people, the claim that surfaces remain infectious for 120 years is not true.
We could also not find any research to back the claim that an infected person can spread the virus from five miles away.
A version of the viral image carried a sub-header that hinted that the post may have been sarcastic.
The viral screenshot was shared by several people, most of whom didn't use a caption or just used an emoticon as caption.
In the second iteration of the post, a sub-header was seen, and it read, "Without wishing to sound alarmist it's certainly time to panic now." The quote was attributed to "a UCD expert with a degree in Journalism but who once read a really good book on virology," making it sound like it was a satire or parody.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We checked the website and social media handles of the Irish publication and were not able to find such an article on the website.
We also conducted a keyword search on Google for the headline and could not find a news article with the headline either.
While conducting the keyword search, we found that Stephen McDermott, an assistant news editor at TheJournal.ie told the news agency Associated Press that the image was a manipulated one and that no such article had been published.
HOW LONG DOES MONKEYPOX VIRUS SURVIVE ON SURFACES?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. A person infected by the virus experiences rashes and flu-like symptoms. Like the virus responsible for smallpox, the monkeypox virus is also classified as orthopoxvirus.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), person-to-person transmission of monkeypox occurs when you come in close physical contact with an infected person, through cough and sneezing, and by touching the lesions of an infected person.
The CDC also mentioned that people can get infected by monkeypox by coming in direct or indirect contact with materials (clothing, bedding, and other linens used by an infected person) contaminated with the virus.
"In one study, investigators found live virus 15 days after a patient's home was left unoccupied," the CDC website said.
Separate research from Germany also found that surfaces around an infected person in an isolated room have a significant viral load. But none of the studies said the virus would stay active for 120 years.
Rachel Roper, a virologist at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, told Nature Scientific Journal that unlike SARS-CoV-2, poxviruses survive outside the human body for a longer time.
We also conducted a keyword search but could not find any research or study to prove that an infected person can spread the virus from five miles away.
Evidently, the claim that monkeypox viruses survive on door handles and toilet seat covers for 120 years and can spread from five miles away is not backed by any scientific evidence.