Primates have been poisoned and physically attacked in Brazil over fears they are linked to the monkeypox outbreak.
As with the coronavirus pandemic, misinformation about the virus has flooded social media, following a very predictable trend: only this time, the poor animals have fallen victim to conspiracy theories.
The World Health Organization (WHO) was forced to issue a statement that the outbreaks are not related to monkeys, after a series of attacks.
“What people need to know is that the transmission we’re seeing is occurring between humans,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.
“They certainly shouldn’t attack any animals.”
According to Brazilian news site G1, 10 monkeys appear to have been intentionally poisoned or injured in less than a week at a nature reserve in Rio Preto, São Paulo state.
This happened after three cases of monkey pox had been reported in the area.
The authorities believe that these attacks, which have also been seen in other parts of the country, are motivated by the fear that they are connected to the disease.
Ms Harris added: “It is close contact transmission. So the concern should be about where it is being transmitted in the human population and what we can do to protect ourselves from getting it and passing it on.
“Any stigmatization of anyone infected will increase transmission, because if people are afraid to identify themselves as infected, they won’t get care and won’t take precautions.
“So don’t stigmatize any animal or any human, because if you do, we’re going to have a much bigger outbreak.”
Brazil is one of the countries most affected by the outbreak, currently dealing with more than 1,700 cases.
It is also one of the only countries outside of the African continent where a person has died from the virus.
As of August 2, there were 25,391 confirmed cases and 12 deaths worldwide.
Almost all are in countries that have never historically reported the disease.
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