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Fact check: monkeypox is neither shingles nor side effect of Pfizer vaccine


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Despite rumours spreading on the internet that probable monkeypox cases reported around the world in recent weeks are actually shingles episodes, the two diseases are caused by viruses from distinct families and are unlikely to be confused for one another based on laboratory tests or clinical symptoms.

Users on social media have also alleged that the latest monkeypox outbreak is a hidden adverse effect of Pfizer’s COVID vaccination.

Following active infection, such as chickenpox in childhood, zoster, like all herpesviruses, lingers in the body. Shingles typically emerge in middle and late life, when the immune system is believed to be weakened and no longer capable of keeping the Zoster virus dormant. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat a painful rash that appears on only one portion of the body.

According to Reuters, shingles and monkeypox are distinct in many aspects, including the risk factors for each disease and the appearance of the rashes on the skin.

“There are significant differences between monkeypox and shingles,” Don Vinh, an associate professor in McGill University’s Division of Experimental Medicine, told Reuters. “Although both are viruses, they belong to different viral families.”

“Shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus VZV, the same virus that causes chickenpox. This virus is not related to the monkeypox virus, according to Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, an infectious diseases fellow at Emory University School of Medicine.

Not an ABD

Monkeypox is not an autoimmune blistering disease (ABD) and, therefore, it would not have been referenced when Pfizer released its list of suspected adverse reactions to its COVID-19 vaccine. Monkeypox is an infectious disease, not an ABD.

Social media users have claimed the two conditions are one and the same, further suggesting that the latest monkeypox outbreak is a side-effect of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine which is being covered up.


Shingles? False. Despite widespread assertions on social media, shingles and monkeypox are not the same disease. Shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus, which is a distinct virus from the one that causes monkeypox and belongs to a different family. Shingles lesions are usually limited to one area of the skin, whereas monkeypox lesions are not limited to one area of the body.

Pfizer vaccine effect? False. Because monkeypox is an infectious disease, not an autoimmune disease, Pfizer was not referring to it when it mentioned ABD in its list of potential adverse events.

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