Survey highlights increasing public knowledge of monkeypox

Public knowledge of monkeypox has increased rapidly in recent weeks despite persistent misconceptions and uncertainty, and more than a quarter of Americans say they are unlikely to get a monkeypox vaccine if they were exposed to it, according to the New Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC).

The August National Commission survey found that 1 in 5 Americans (21%) are somewhat concerned or very concerned about getting monkeypox in the next three months, statistically as in the July survey (19%).

The findings come as officials in California and Texas reported two deaths from monkeypox, which US health officials declared a health emergency on August 4. As of September 12, there were 21,985 confirmed cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In late August, however, the rate of increase in new cases slowed in parts of the United States, leading CDC Director Rochelle Walinsky to say she was “cautiously optimistic.”

The survey found increases in knowledge over a month since the last APPC survey:

  • More than half (61%) know the monkeypox vaccine exists, up from 34% in July.
  • The vast majority (84%) know that monkeypox is usually spread by close contact with an infected person, compared to 69% in July.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) know that MSM are more likely to get monkeypox — up from a third (33%) in July.
  • If they were exposed to monkeypox virus, most Americans (73%) say they are most likely to get the vaccine – although more than a quarter (27%) say they are “very unlikely” or “not at all likely” to get the vaccine.

While people question the ability of public health authorities to effectively communicate important information about subsequent health risks, it is thanks to their efforts and the efforts of the news media that the public has rapidly gained critical knowledge about the new health threat posed by monkeypox.”

Kathleen Hall Jamison is director of the Center for Public Policy at Annenberg

The nationally representative panel of 1,621 American adults surveyed by the SSRS for the Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania at Annenberg from August 16-22, 2022, was the eighth wave of the Annenberg Science Knowledge (ASK) survey that selected respondents For the first time in April. 2021. The sampling error margin is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. See Appendix and Methodology for additional information.

This is a follow-up to the seventh wave of the ASK poll, conducted July 12-18, 2022, of 1,580 adults in the United States, which had a margin of error of ±3.3 percentage points.

Monkeypox fears

Monkeypox, a rare disease caused by the orthopoxvirus, is a less deadly member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to the CDC. Discovered in 1958, the disease is usually characterized by a rash and is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids of an infected person; respiratory secretions by touching objects that have come into contact with infectious body fluids; by a pregnant woman to a fetus through the placenta; or to and from infected animals. On September 7, the CDC said, “Monkeypox is often transmitted through close and continuous physical contact, associated almost exclusively with sexual contact in the current outbreak.” (For more information on monkeypox, see the APPC’s FactCheck.org FAQ.)

Among the results:

  • Familiarity with monkeypox: Although the vast majority (80%) of people in the July survey said they had “viewed, read, or heard” something about monkeypox within the past month, in August more than a third (35%) considered themselves to be somewhat What or very familiar with the disease, while 65% were not or were not familiar with it.
  • Concerns about monkeypox1 in 5 Americans (21%) worry about getting monkeypox within the next 3 months, the same as in July (19%). (The July survey also found 30% are concerned about contracting Covid within the next three months.)
    • Although the vast majority of cases were among men who have sex with men, women were still more concerned about getting it: 26% of women say they are concerned about getting monkeypox versus 17% of men.
  • Few know someone who has monkeypox: 96% said they did not personally know anyone who had monkeypox, while 2% said they knew and 2% were unsure.

Knowledge of monkeypox

The survey found that:

  • Find out how monkeypox spreads: 84% know that monkeypox is usually spread by close contact with an infected person, up from 69% in July.
  • Isolate if injured: 77% know that people with monkeypox should isolate at home until the rash clears, which is what the CDC advises.
  • Most of them do not know that monkeypox is less contagious than Covid: Only 41% know monkeypox is less contagious than COVID-19, a statistically significant change since July (36%). Another 59% of survey respondents incorrectly believe monkeypox is either contagious (17%) or more contagious (5%) than Covid-19 or say they are not sure (37%). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says monkeypox “is not known to remain in the air and not transmitted during short periods of common airspace” but through direct contact with an infected person, materials that have come into contact with body fluids or sores, or through secretions Respiratory during “face shutdown. — face-to-face contact.” Monkeypox for Vox “is not highly transmissible like something like smallpox or measles, or certainly not Covid,” infectious disease expert Ann Remoen told Vox.

Who is most likely to get monkeypox?

The survey found that people are aware of some of the risks of getting monkeypox:

  • Are people who have contracted Covid-19 at greater risk? Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) know that contracting the Covid-19 virus does not put a person at risk of developing monkeypox, up from 33% in July. But a similar percentage (47%) are not sure whether this is true or not.
  • A greater risk for men who have sex with men? Nearly 2 in 3 (63%) people know there is a higher risk of monkeypox for men who have sex with men, a significant increase from 1 in 3 (33%) in July. However, 21% of those surveyed are not sure if this is true. In an interview with The Washington Post, Walinsky, director of the CDC, said that MSM is “the most vulnerable community.” A report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in August reported that of monkeypox cases in the United States with available data, 99% occurred in men, and 94% of them reported “recent male-to-male sexual contact or close intimate contact.” “.
  • Higher risks if you share bedding? more than two thirds (68%) know that people are more likely to get monkeypox if they share bedding, clothing, or towels used by someone with monkeypox. A quarter (26%) are not sure if this is true.
  • More risks when contacting face to face? Two-thirds (67%) know that people are more likely to get monkeypox if they have direct, face-to-face contact with someone who has monkeypox – but a quarter (24%) aren’t sure if this is true.
  • Monkeypox and Covid-19 vaccine: The majority (71%) think it’s wrong to say that getting a Covid-19 vaccine increases your chances of getting monkeypox – statistically roughly the same as 67% in July. There is no evidence for that.

Raising awareness of the monkeypox vaccine

Compared to July, in August, there was much more awareness of a vaccine to prevent monkeypox infection: 61% know that the monkeypox vaccine exists, up from 34% in July. However, the latest survey still finds that a total of 4 in 10 people (39%) are unsure whether or not a vaccine exists, down from 66% in July. The Food and Drug Administration has licensed a vaccine to prevent monkeypox, and in addition, a licensed smallpox vaccine is available to help prevent the disease, according to the CDC.

People can be vaccinated with the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine after, after Known or presumptive exposure to a person with monkeypox, ideally within four days after exposure, says the CDC.

When survey participants were asked how likely they would be to receive the monkeypox vaccine if they had been exposed to monkeypox, less than half said they were “very likely”:

  • 48% said they were more likely to get vaccinated
  • 24% are somewhat likely to have been vaccinated
  • 15% are not likely to be vaccinated
  • 12% are not likely to ever get vaccinated

Misinformation about monkeypox and conspiracy theories

As in the July poll, the majority of Americans don’t believe the conspiracy theories that monkeypox was either biologically engineered in the lab or released on purpose—although some remain unsure about what is right or wrong. Belief levels did not change significantly from July to August.

  • Bioengineering in the lab: 57% say the idea that monkeypox was biodesigned in the lab is wrong (statistically the same as 54% in July). However, 15% said it was correct (statistically the same 12% in July) and more than a quarter (28%) are not sure. There is no evidence for that.
  • intentional release (sold out of half a sample, MOE = ± 4.7 percentage points): More than half (60%) responded that it is wrong to say monkeypox was released on purpose, although a quarter (24%) are unsure and 16% think this is true. There is no evidence for that.
  • Released to help Biden (Half sample asked, MOE = ± 4.7 percentage points): 70% refuse to say monkeypox was intentionally released by scientists to distract attention from the Biden administration’s failure. However, 18% were not sure whether this was true or false, and 12% said it was true. There is no evidence for that.
  • Caused by 5G exposure: A large majority (82%) said it is wrong to assert that monkeypox is caused by exposure to a 5G signal, although 17% remain unsure. There is no evidence for that.