Can You Get Monkeypox at the Gym?

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FRIDAY, Sept. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Yes, you can get monkeypox at the gym, but there's no need to panic, one expert says.

“We have plenty of ways to protect ourselves in this setting,” said Dr. Thomas Giordano, chief of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

First, wipe down equipment including weight machines, dumbbells, barbells and yoga mats, before and after use. Don’t share gym towels because the virus can be spread by touching a towel used by someone who has the virus.

“Most of the surfaces you’re coming across in the gym are hard, like plastic and metal, and not porous, like towels and linens,” Giordano said in a Baylor news release. “Because many gyms provided cleaning solutions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can easily wipe away the virus from those hard surfaces.”

You can also bring your own cleaning solution, with permission from gym staff, if you’re concerned that those provided by the facility are not effective or not available. Bring products containing between 60% and 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, Giordano suggested.

Layer your protection by wearing long clothes to cover exposed skin that might come into contact with equipment.

"Monkeypox is most commonly spread through skin-to-skin contact, so keep that in mind when planning your workout,” said Giordano. “It may be a good idea to avoid wearing tank tops or working out shirtless for a little while.”

Wash clothes, towels and hands after a workout, he advised. If you lay a gym towel on the equipment, keep the same side touching the equipment on all machines you use. Minimize touching that side of the towel.

Monkeypox can potentially be spread by respiratory droplets, so it could also help to wear a mask during high aerobic activities, such as weightlifting, treadmill running or group fitness classes, Giordano added. Wearing a mask also protects against cold and flu viruses, and COVID-19.

“A lot of gyms have implemented surface cleaning protocols, all of which are effective in preventing the spread of monkeypox,” Giordano said. “Following those protocols in addition to washing your hands and staying home if you feel sick will ensure you’re safe.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the monkeypox outbreak.

SOURCE: Baylor College of Medicine, news release, Aug. 30, 2022

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