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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 23, 2022

No, these photos don’t prove monkeypox is a hoax

If Your Time is short

  • News organizations have reused images of monkeypox infections over the years to illustrate the disease’s symptoms but that doesn’t mean it’s fake. 

People sharing photos of lesions caused by monkeypox and suggesting that because these images have been used in news coverage over the years, that proves the current outbreak of the virus is a sham. 

"Folks," one May 21 post says. "If they’re sellin’ ya monkey pox, why don’t they at least use real, current pics? For God’s sake THINK about it!"

The post shows screenshots of four photos used in news stories in 2022 and years prior. 

But it’s not unusual for media outlets to reuse such images to illustrate for readers what an infection could look like. And none of the news stories claim that these are new photos. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Since May 13, there have been reports of cases of monkeypox in countries where the virus is not normally found, including the United States, according to the World Health Organization. As of May 21, 92 cases had been confirmed, with between one and five cases in the U.S. Investigations into the origin of these outbreaks are ongoing. 

In the United States, the first case was reported on May 18 after a resident returned to Massachusetts from Canada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

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One photo shows scabbed sores on a hand that appeared in both a May 21 Independent story about monkeypox and a CNN story from September 2018, when cases were being reported in the United Kingdom.

We found the photo on Getty Images’ website. It was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shows the hand of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus in the United States in June 2003.

Embed from Getty Images
Another black-and-white image shows a hand gripping a leg, both covered in lesions. The photo appeared without a caption in both a recent story by NBC News about the monkeypox infections and a 2010 blog post about the virus. 

We found this one on Getty Images, too. It was taken in June 2003 and shows "the arms and legs of a 4-year-old girl infected with monkeypox" in Liberia. 

Then there’s a photo of a pair of hands with lesions that ran in a May 21 New York Daily News story and a 2018 Sun story. "This 1997 image provided by the CDC shows the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox case patient," the Daily News caption says. 

On Getty’s website, the photo has a similar caption. The image was taken in the Republic of Congo.   

Finally, there’s a photo of lesions on a man’s torso that ran in BBC stories about monkeypox in 2017 and in 2022 with a Reuters credit. We found a 2017 story about monkeypox in Nigeria on the BBC’s site but couldn’t find the image in the screenshot. Nevertheless, like the other photos in this post, its repeated use over time does not undermine the fact that there are real outbreaks of monkeypox happening across the world. 

There’s nothing unusual about these photos being reused to show readers what an infection could look like

We rate this post False.


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No, these photos don’t prove monkeypox is a hoax

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