Monkeypox transmission risk low in healthcare settings, study suggests

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found only one documented case of monkeypox transmission after exposure in a healthcare setting outside endemic regions after conducting a literature review that covers the last two decades. 

The literature review involved 12 studies on healthcare-associated monkeypox exposure and subsequent management dating back to 2000. The findings were published June 9 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

The study said the exposure tied to the single monkeypox case was considered high risk "due to changing presumably contaminated bedding while wearing disposable apron and gloves but not a face mask or respirator" when the patient had active lesions and was not yet isolated. 

"Although it is reassuring that there was just a single case of a higher risk exposure resulting in transmission to a healthcare worker, the studies used variable definitions of exposures and reported very little details regarding the nature of the exposures and the personal protective equipment used. Therefore, it is difficult to quantify precisely the risk of transmission under a given set of circumstances," Kimon Zachary, MD, study co-author and assistant chief of MGH's Infection Control Unit, said in a July 8 news release. 

Researchers called for continued evaluations on healthcare facilities around the world amid the current outbreak to guide transmission prevention strategies.

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