Monkeypox: Cleaning may have curbed spread in home, says study

A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says routine cleaning and disinfection may have helped two monkeypox patients limit the amount of contamination in their home.

The report, released Friday, looked at the situations involving two people, referred to as patients A and B, who lived together in Utah.

Local health officials swabbed objects in the patients’ home, with monkeypox virus DNA detected on many objects and surfaces, the CDC says.

“However, the inability to detect viable virus suggests that virus viability might have decayed over time or through chemical or environmental inactivation,” the report says.

The CDC adds that even though both patients were symptomatic and isolated in their home for more than three weeks, “their cleaning and disinfection practices during this period might have limited the level of contamination within the household.”

The agency cautions that the data is limited and more studies are needed to determine the likelihood of household surface contamination and indirect transmission from monkeypox.


Monkeypox spreads primarily through close personal contact, often skin-to-skin, with the rash, scabs, lesions, bodily fluids or respiratory secretions of a person who has the viral disease, the CDC says. Transmission through contaminated objects or surfaces is also possible.

As of Friday, Canada had a total of 1,168 confirmed cases of monkeypox. However, it’s unclear how many of those are still active and which have recovered.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam said the number of new reported cases nationally has slowed down in recent weeks.

Of the cases confirmed to date, 30 have resulted in hospitalizations, she said, and more than 99 per cent involve males. The median age for patients is 36.

In cases where additional information was available, Tam said a majority reported intimate sexual contact with other men, a factor consistent with other countries.

Health officials have stressed, though, that anyone can become infected and transmit the virus.

As of Aug. 12, Canada had no plans to declare monkeypox a public health emergency, something the US and World Health Organization (WHO) have already done. A WHO global emergency, while the highest level of alert, does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal.

Tam also said the Public Health Agency of Canada has, to date, distributed more than 105,000 doses of the Imvamune vaccine to provinces and territories, with 59,000 people receiving at least one dose as of Aug. 14.

“At this time, to lower the overall risk of getting infected and spreading the monkeypox virus, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends practicing safer sex. Having fewer sexual partners, particularly anonymous partners even when they don’t have symptoms, can also reduce your risk of getting infected,” Tam said.


In Utah, the CDC says the local Salt Lake County Health Department reported two real-time polymerase chain reactions, or PCR, confirmed monkeypox cases in May 2022.

Both were associated with travel and referred to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

The report describes the two individuals as having a mild illness. Both experienced early symptoms such as fatigue and body aches, with lesions ranging in appearance and appearing on various parts of their bodies in the days after.

It took approximately 30 days for patient A to recover and about 22 for patient B.

Utah Department of Health and Human Services staff, wearing personal protective equipment, entered the patients’ home and swabbed high-contact objects and surfaces, 20 days after the two individuals had spent time isolating. Both were still symptomatic.

The staff collected specimens from 30 objects in nine areas of the home. The temperature inside during the patients’ isolation period ranged from 20.6 C to 23.9 C.

The Utah Public Health Laboratory processed and tested the samples. While most produced positive PCR results, including those taken from cloth furniture, blankets, handles, switches and a chair, the CDC says none produced a viral culture, meaning they were unable to infect cells.

While isolating, both patients said they showered once or twice a day, cleaned their hands about 10 times a day, washed their bedding and clothes weekly and did routine cleaning around the house, including mopping and using a multi-surface spray daily on most high -contact surfaces, the CDC report says.

However, the CDC says the cleaning spray was not listed on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s list of disinfectants for emerging viral pathogens.

With files from Online Politics Producer Rachel Aiello, CTV News Parliamentary Bureau Writer and Producer Spencer Van Dyk, The Associated Press and CNN