Get PolitiFact in your inbox.
If Your Time is short
- The monkeypox virus is on a list of select agents and toxins the U.S. government has determined “have the potential to pose a severe threat to both human and animal health, to plant health, or to animal and plant products.” But there’s no evidence to support the claim that recent outbreaks are biological warfare.
In a video being shared on Facebook, a man opens multiple books about biological warfare to entries about the monkeypox virus.
"Biological warfare, let’s take a look, what have we got?" a man can be heard saying, flipping open one of the books. Then the camera focuses on "monkeypox virus."
"Nooooo," he says.
He goes on to say, "This is a war on us by them. Do not comply, do not fall into yet another trap."
"It’s a Bio war against us by our governments!" reads text over the video.
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.)
Grant McFadden, a professor at Arizona State University and a virologist with expertise in poxviruses and diseases caused by poxviruses, told PolitiFact there’s "really no connection to reality" to support the claim that monkeypox is biological warfare.
The monkeypox virus appears on a list of "select agents and toxins," biological agents and toxins the U.S. government has determined "have the potential to pose a severe threat to both human and animal health, to plant health, or to animal and plant products."
What that means in practice, McFadden said, is that scientists are required to "go through an extreme amount of bureaucratic licensure" to work with the virus in a lab.
Monkeypox was first discovered in a lab in 1958, though it wasn’t created there as some conspiracy theories have claimed.
More than 250 confirmed and suspected cases have been found in at least 16 countries, including the United States and Canada. Investigations into how the virus is spreading are ongoing, the WHO said, but "based on currently available information, cases have mainly but not exclusively been identified amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics."
At a May 23 press conference, Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the division of high consequence pathogens and pathology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said "all the evidence that we have to date suggests that the monkeypox virus that is circulating in these communities is closely related to the monkeypox viruses that we've seen circulating in West Africa for the last several years."
The first U.S. case was reported in Massachusetts, and "sequence data" the CDC has from that case "matches the sequence data" from a case in Portugal, which shows that "they are very closely linked to the viruses that we've seen out of West Africa," McQuiston said.
"We know that close personal contact can spread monkeypox," she added. "So all signs point to this being an outbreak associated with person-to-person spread."
There’s no evidence to support the claim that these outbreaks are biological warfare against citizens by their own governments.
We rate this post False.
Facebook post, May 21, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Select Agents and Toxins List, visited May 23, 2022
CDC press conference, May 23, 2022
World Health Organization, Multi-country monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries, May 21, 2022
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts public health officials confirm case of monkeypox, May 18, 2022
Interview with Grant McFadden, director of the Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy, Arizona State University, May 23, 2022
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.