The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) recommends that patients with monkeypox who have severe disease requiring hospital admission are cared for in isolation rooms, with infection prevention and control (IPC) precautions that aim to contain potentially infectious virus within the room and protect staff who enter. However, to date it has been unclear whether these measures are proportionate to the potential virus exposure risks.
To investigate this, researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine and the UKHSA conducted a study which collected samples from the rooms of patients hospitalised with monkeypox. The findings have been published in The Lancet Microbe.
The research team assessed the extent of virus shedding onto surfaces in specialist isolation rooms containing patients admitted to hospital for the management of severe monkeypox. They also investigated whether the virus was detectable in air samples from the rooms.
The researchers found that viral DNA shed by the patients could be found on multiple surfaces throughout the isolation rooms (56 (93%) positive by PCR out of 60 samples). Monkeypox virus DNA was also found on personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by healthcare workers caring for these patients, and in the anterooms where they remove their PPE. Monkeypox virus DNA was also detected in five out of twenty air samples taken within these isolation rooms.