Monkeypox Can Be Airborne, Too

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance last week for travelers wishing to protect themselves against monkeypox. This was one of its recommendations: “Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.”

Late Monday night, that recommendation was deleted.

“C.D.C. removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox travel health notice because it caused confusion,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

However, the agency still says that in countries where monkeypox is spreading, “household contacts and health care workers” should consider wearing masks. That guideline also applies to “other people who may be in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with monkeypox.”

The turnabout hints at a little-discussed aspect of the current monkeypox outbreak: The virus can be airborne, at least over short distances. While airborne transmission is only a small factor in the overall spread, experts said in interviews, there are no firm estimates regarding how much it contributes.