Is It Possible To Get Monkeypox If You Thrift Your Clothes?

At the beginning of August 2022, President Joe Biden officially declared monkeypox a national health emergency. Before this official statement, rumblings about monkeypox began to increase. According to NPR, at the time of the announcement, there were over 6,000 reported cases of monkeypox in the United States. While the declaration offers more resources for treatment and allows the CDC to share more of their findings, it also evoked a bit of panic in the average American.

According to the CDC, monkeypox is "a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus." Those who get the disease suffer from things like fevers, chills, headaches, and nasal congestion, but the main tell-tale sign of the infection is the rash. Appearing on the face, hands, feet, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, monkeypox looks like little pimples or blisters and takes about two to four weeks to fully heal. But, how exactly do you get monkeypox? We have learned that you can contract the disease simply by being in contact with it — leading many shoppers to wonder, can you get it from thrifting or trying on clothes?

The truth about contracting monkeypox from clothes

As the CDC begins to learn more about monkeypox, the warnings and guidelines are changing. Reading the initial announcement left many people worried about how easy it is to contract the disease, and a big concern became shopping, specifically at thrift shops. TikTok became a big source for the scare, going as far to say that thrifting as a hobby will go away for good due to the monkeypox outbreak. But just how scared should we be?

If you love to thrift, or even love to try on clothes in a store, you don't have to worry too much. Self spoke with Peter Chin-Hong, MD, a professor of medicine specializing in infectious disease at the University of California San Francisco, who said that contracting monkeypox via shopping is "very, very unlikely." He went on to say, "It's very difficult to get infected with monkeypox through clothing, except in a household-context situation with lots and lots of contact." So, if you love to thrift, you don't have to give it up just yet. But to be extra safe, you may want to throw your clothes in the wash before wearing them for a full day.

When to actually worry about monkeypox

While you may be able to resume your thrifting as normal, that isn't to say you shouldn't be completely blind to the threat of monkeypox. According to CNN, monkeypox is not a threat like COVID-19 was. Unlike COVID, monkeypox is only spread through direct contact (COVID could be caught simply by being in the same room as an infected person). This means you would need to be skin-to-skin with an infected person for a decent period of time. While you should be aware of the disease, most Americans can go on living their everyday lives.

But, monkeypox is still very present here in the United States. According to the CDC, as of August 22, there have been 18,417 reported cases of the infection — but with zero reported deaths, it may be more of a nuisance than a total cause for concern. To avoid contracting monkeypox, be aware of the rash and avoid anyone who may have symptoms of monkeypox and as always, wash your hands often and keep that trusty hand sanitizer on you at all times.