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- Monkeypox was first observed in lab monkeys in 1958, but it wasn’t created there.
A screenshot of a post about monkeypox on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being offered as evidence that the virus was man-made.
The screenshot from the CDC website says, "Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’"
The Facebook user commented, "It was created in a lab and given via injection, is what this means."
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.)
Contrary to the post’s claim, monkeypox "was not created in a lab and given via injection." Kristen Nordlund, a spokesperson for the CDC, told PolitiFact that it was first discovered in 1958 "when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research."
Grant McFadden, a professor at Arizona State University and a virologist with expertise in poxviruses, also told PolitiFact that although monkeypox was discovered in a lab, it didn’t originate there. In fact, since 1958, scientists have learned that rodents transmit the virus to monkeys and dogs, McFadden said.
David Evans, a professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Alberta, said "monkeypox" is a misnomer.
"It’s actually endemic in various African rodents, squirrels, porcupines, etc.," he said in an email. "Basically, people were importing monkeys and occasionally they came infected with monkeypox."
A monkeypox outbreak in the United States in 2003, for example, was traced back to the import of exotic pets.
As for the claim that the virus is spread via injection, needles are used with lab animals when scientists are investigating a virus, McFadden said, but monkeypox didn’t start because lab monkeys were injected with the virus. And it’s not, of course, transmitted in nature that way.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The virus primarily occurs in central and west Africa, according to the CDC, often near tropical rainforests, though it has been showing up increasingly in urban areas.
More than 250 confirmed and suspected cases have been found in at least 16 countries, including the United States and Canada.
We rate this post False.
Facebook post, May 21, 2022
Interview with Grant McFadden, director of the Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy, Arizona State University, May 23, 2022
Email interview with Kristen Nordlund, public affairs specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 23, 2022
Email interview with David Evans, professor of medical microbiology and immunology, University of Alberta, May 24, 2022
Email interview with Stuart Isaacs, associate dean for animal research and associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases), Permian School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, May 24, 2022
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