Spam Story About Man Catching Monkeypox From Scooter Blocked on Twitter

A popular monkeypox story has been deleted from Twitter this week, with multiple users apparently copying and pasting the same claim that they contracted the virus from a scooter.

As the Huffington Post reports, the story is that the tweet author recently met up with someone who was selling an electric scooter. After meeting the seller and trying the scooter out, they decided to buy it and the two people parted ways.

About a week later the buyer started to feel unwell. However, multiple COVID PCR tests all came up negative.

Coincidentally, the buyer notices that their scooter's tires have deflated, so they reach out to the seller again to ask for advice on inflating them. During this conversation, the seller mentions that they were recently diagnosed with monkeypox.

In this combination image, Multiple electric e scooters and an inset of Monkeypox hands. iStock / Getty Images

The buyer then goes to a doctor, who confirms that they, too, have caught the disease. "Could it be that I was infected in a 15-minute contact in which we only greeted each other by shaking hands?" one of the tweets reads.

The buyer says they were told that the "most probable" cause of infection was that they transferred the virus into their body after touching the scooter handles, which might have had the virus on them.

One user gained thousands of likes from posting what may have been the original story, though they have apparently been suspended by Twitter and the thread is no longer visible.

It is unclear why.

Person on scooter
A stock photo shower a person holding the handlebars of a scooter. According to a recent viral Twitter story, someone caught monkeypox after buying a scooter from a monkeypox-positive seller. doble-d/Getty

As mentioned, this same thread, or at least the first tweet of it, has been posted by multiple people. Some are obviously intended to be a joke, with aspects of the story replaced with new details.

One Twitter user, a mathematician at the The National University of San Marcos, posted a photo collage of several screenshots of the story being repeated by different users.

This year's monkeypox outbreak in the West has been concentrated among communities of men who have sex with men (MSM), suggesting sex is a factor in transmission—though it's important to note that anyone can catch monkeypox, and not necessarily through sex.

Regardless of whether the story is true or who posted it originally, multiple virus experts have told Newsweek that the situation is plausible.

Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "It is plausible that this [person] got infected in this way.

"We know that the infection spreads through contact, including touching shared items such as cutlery and bedding. Scooter handlebars might fall into this category. But it is unlikely as we do think the virus does not survive long on surfaces.

"It usually spreads by skin-to-skin contact or respiratory droplets, which seem like more plausible ways it would have spread in this encounter. Did they shake hands on the deal for example?

"The distribution of cases in this epidemic reinforces this view. There do not seem so far to have been any cases reported through casual contact simply by touching surfaces."

Jason Mercer, a professor of virus cell biology at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., also told Newsweek the alleged situation is "possible but something I would consider a very low chance event".

He added it is unknown how much of the virus is necessary for people to become infected.

"This would likely require the infected person with a lesion to have touched the object with the lesion leaving behind infected material, which the uninfected person touched or picked up sufficient amount to then infect themselves," he said.

"Monkeypox can be spread by fomites and poxviruses, [and] in general are very stable in the environment. However, most fomite-based infections occur between people that have sustained or intimate contact with infected individuals or objects that infected individuals use frequently."

Another virologist told Newsweek there was not enough information to say for sure how the patient may have gotten infected, since respiratory droplets during the conversion with the seller would also be a possible route of infection depending on how long they talked.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox can spread to anyone via direct contact with the infectious rash it causes or bodily fluids, by touching objects, fabrics, or surfaces that have been touched by someone with monkeypox, and contact with respiratory secretions.

Intimate contect like sex, hugging, kissing, or prolonged face-to-face contact are also ways the virus can spread.

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