On August 4, 2022, the White House announced monkeypox a public health emergency after the contagious sickness had been in the news since early this summer. Since then, you might have wondered about your vulnerability to developing monkeypox under specific circumstances. You might now be wondering if there’s a chance of getting monkeypox from a sweaty setting where you share equipment with strangers if you frequently visit the gym or a fitness studio.
Although it makes perfect sense to be cautious, Armand Balboni, M.D., Ph.D., former staff officer at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and CEO of Appili Therapeutics , tells Shape that “your chance of catching monkeypox at the gym is quite minimal.” So let’s take a deeper look at the specifics.
Priorities first According to Kami Kim, M.D., director of infectious diseases at USF Health and attending physician at Tampa General Hospital, “monkeypox is a viral sickness.” The virus belongs to a family of viruses known as orthopox, which frequently results in skin lesions, such as a rash or patches that finally scab over. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the main indicator of monkeypox is a rash, which can occasionally feel unpleasant or itchy and is frequently the most obvious indication that you may have been infected (CDC). According to Dr. Kim, a monkeypox rash can develop on, near, or inside the rectum as well as on the hands, feet, arms, face, and anus. According to the CDC, further symptoms may include a fever, tiredness, a headache, or cold-like symptoms. Such symptoms could appear ahead of the rash, behind it, or not at all.
Monkeypox is not a recent disease, despite the fact that the present outbreak is, says Dr. Balboni. Scientists and healthcare professionals already have defenses against monkeypox, unlike the COVID-19 epidemic. Monkeypox and smallpox have long been prevented with the same vaccines. For instance, in 2019, the U.S. Food andamp; Drug Administration approved the JYNNEOS vaccine for both monkeypox and smallpox. Since the monkeypox virus belongs to the same family as the smallpox virus, Dr. Kim continues, “the smallpox vaccine is efficient in guarding against monkeypox.” Having said that, she asserts that smallpox is “far more contagious and lethal than monkeypox.”
So, how might you possibly become infected with the virus? According to Dr. Balboni, monkeypox is mainly disseminated by direct touch with the rash, scabs, or body fluids of an infected person. He writes, “For this reason, people should try to avoid intimate touch and skin-to-skin contact with persons who either have monkeypox or appear like they have a rash. According to him, close skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, is how monkeypox is most successfully spread. However, according to the CDC monkeypox is not regarded as a sexually transmitted illness.
CAN MONKEYPOX BE GAINED AT THE GYM? The chance of contracting monkeypox at the gym is minimal, but it’s not zero. According to Mackenzie Weise, M.P.H., C.I.C., epidemiologist and director of clinical solutions and content equity at Wolters Kluwer , if a person with monkeypox visits a gym, their bodily fluids, respiratory secretions, and rash materials can contaminate the environment. “If this takes place, contamination of objects, surfaces, or fabrics could lead to transmission to another individual. Monkeypox viruses, or orthopoxviruses, can survive interior conditions for weeks or months if the region is not well cleaned.”
You normally don’t need to worry too much about catching monkeypox at the gym for a few different reasons. First off, according to Dr. Kim, although monkeypox can infrequently spread through bedding, clothing, or towels used by someone with active lesions, this is unlikely to occur in a gym setting. The likelihood of contracting monkeypox via interaction at a gym is extremely low, according to her, as most gyms take care to sanitize public spaces and promptly launder towels. According to her, “the majority of persons with active skin lesions would be symptomatic and would be advised to isolate until all lesions had fully healed.”
Is it feasible to contract monkeypox through airborne transmission if the guy on the treadmill next to you starts coughing? According to Dr. Balboni, the spread of monkeypox through the air is extremely unlikely “save in very rare cases and in tests in the lab with very lengthy exposure.”
Gyms are expected to take extra precautions with sanitary measures regardless of the monkeypox epidemic, in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Active andamp; Safe Commitment was introduced in 2020 by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a non-profit trade organization that represents more than 200,000 health and fitness establishments globally. Operators of health clubs agreed to take COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting their facilities, as part of the program. In order to stop the transmission of viruses, it is routine procedure for clubs to deep clean their equipment and surfaces every night and to have hand washing stations available throughout their facilities.
HOW CAN THE RISK OF MONKEYPOX AT THE GYM BE REDUCED? Although there is little chance of getting the virus from going to a gym or fitness center, it’s still a good idea to practice some basic hygiene precautions. “It’s always a good idea to clean down your machines and equipment both before and after usage with an alcohol-based sanitizer spray or wipe,” advises Dr. Balboni. “If you are worried about catching monkeypox or any other infectious disease at the gym.” Additionally, you ought to avoid making direct eye contact with other gym patrons and wash your hands with soap and water both before and after your workout.
Dr. Kim also cautions against sharing towels with any other gym patrons because there is a slight chance that monkeypox could spread through fabrics. To be on the safe side, you can always bring your own towel. Most importantly, stay at home if you’re sick, advises Weise. Consider reserving the crop tops and bike shorts for at-home workouts if you want to be extra cautious. “Safety comes before gym attire: Plan to go to the gym wearing something that covers as little skin as possible “Weise says.
In conclusion, you can exercise without worrying about monkeypox as long as your gym practices good hygiene, such as routinely disinfecting surfaces, and you take a few easy precautions to protect yourself by washing your hands, wiping down equipment, and wearing clothing that prevents skin from touching surface.