CDC backtracks! Agency drops advice for travelers to wear face masks

The CDC has dropped its advice for travelers to wear face masks to protect themselves against monkeypox just 24 hours after it was reported by the media.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deleted this bullet point from there alert on the tropical disease before 3 a.m. on Tuesday, screen captures show.

A day before the page read: ‘Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.’

It was quietly added to the section six days ago, after the threat level was raised to Level 2 which advises travelers to ‘practice enhanced precautions’. has contacted the CDC for an explanation on the decision to take down the guidance.

On Monday, Fox News reported the change on its website in an article published at 1:07 p.m EST. Later in the day, both and CNBC also reported the guidance.

Monkeypox can only be spread by people showing symptoms of the virus, and typically transmits through physical contact with infectious skin lesions. But in some cases it can also be spread through breathing in droplets from infected people.

America has detected 31 cases across 12 states and Washington D.C. so far, with most having lesions opening in the genital area as their first symptom. New York City is the nation’s hotspot with seven cases, followed by California with six.

Screen grabs of their website taken at 3am on June 7 (labeled top right) show that the advice to wear a face mask has been removed

But in a grab from just the day before the advice to wear a face mask is still clearly visible on the website

When the CDC's website came back online today, it also showed that the bulletpoint had been removed. The agency is yet to explain why this decision was taken

When the CDC’s website came back online today, it also showed that the bulletpoint had been removed. The agency is yet to explain why this decision was taken

Monkeypox has now been detected in 12 U.S. states and Washington D.C., official figures show

Monkeypox has now been detected in 12 U.S. states and Washington D.C., official figures show

Screen captures from the WayBack Machine — the internet’s un-official archive — revealed the back pedal from the agency.

When the advice to wear a face mask was first added to the page on June 1, the CDC did not put out an alert or a press release.

The advice did not say in which settings — such as transport or public buildings — someone should wear a mask to avoid catching monkeypox. 

It was picked up by media outlets — including — on Monday afternoon which relayed the updated advice.

But within 13 hours the CDC had backtracked and removed it from their website.

Monkeypox was spreading undetected around the globe ‘for years’, expert warns 

Monkeypox may have been spreading around the world undetected for ‘a couple of years’, a World Health Organization expert claimed yesterday.

Dr Rosamund Lewis, the agency’s technical lead for the tropical disease, told a briefing work was ongoing to pinpoint how long it had been transmitting in people.

But she suggested the tropical disease could have been in the population for several years after jumping from animals to humans.

Monkeypox has likely been spreading silently in social and sexual networks for some time, experts say, before super-spreader events at two raves in Europe sparked the current outbreak.

It is not clear how long the virus has been circulating undetected in America, but top advisers suggest it was ‘possibly’ in the country before the first case was detected in Massachusetts last month — although not to ‘any great degree’.

At least 26 monkeypox cases have been spotted in the U.S. in less than three weeks — with Hawaii becoming the twelfth state to spot the virus this weekend.

Most infections are linked to international travel to ‘areas experiencing an outbreak’, but at least one U.S. case is in a patient with no links to travel or another patient.

Globally, the virus — which is native to West Africa — has cropped up in more than two dozen countries which are mostly in Europe.

The CDC web page was down this morning, but when it came back online at around 9am it continued to show that the bullet point had been removed.

Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases expert at John Hopkins University, told that monkeypox is primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

‘When you look at the mechanics of this outbreak it is primarily transmitted through close contact and skin-to-skin contact,’ he said.

‘While monkeypox can be transmitted through respiratory droplets, that is not the main way people are getting it.

‘For example, the household attack rate [number of people who catch the virus who live with an infected person] is not very high.

‘In the same household, people are not getting infected at high rates.’

He said the CDC had likely put the guidance out in good faith, but then withdrawn it ‘after consideration’.

But he added: ‘It is unfortunate that they put it on there and then removed it, because it will lead some people to believe something nefarious is happening — but that is not the case.’

CDC health chiefs put out a travel alert over the monkeypox outbreak about two weeks ago.

It advised those outside the U.S. to avoid sick people and animals, not eat game meat, and not to use any creams, powders or lotions made from wild animals.

Anyone who experiences an unexplained rash — a common symptom of the virus — was urged to seek immediate medical attention.

When it was first published, the alert made no mention of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

The dispute over face masks to protect against monkeypox is reminiscent of the confusion sparked by the CDC’s guidance over the coverings for Covid.

In April the Government Agency said that people should continue to wear coverings on public transport to protect themselves against Covid.

But days later this was struck down by a Florida judge, who said the agency had exceeded its authority and failed to follow proper rulemaking procedures with the recommendation.

America has reported another six suspected cases of monkeypox detected over the last three days in four states and Washington D.C.

These included two in New York City, and one in Colorado, California and Florida.

California’s latest case was in Sacramento — the fourth in the city — and a ‘close contact’ of the first it spotted in the area. Public Health chiefs said 30 other close contacts were now being vaccinated against the virus.

No further details were released on the other infections. 

Globally, more than 1,000 monkeypox cases have now been confirmed outside of West Africa — where the virus is native.