Dispelling Misinformation About Monkeypox 2.0

On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a Global Health Emergency as a result of a rising number of outbreaks. Overwatch’s previous brief, entitled “Dispelling Misinformation About Monkeypox,” addressed fundamental issues surrounding the disease. From the time of the brief on May 24, 2022, to the writing of this brief, the number of confirmed monkeypox cases has grown from two confirmed cases in the United States to now 8,933, and globally, the cases have risen from 92 cases as of May 7, 2022, to 30,189.

Monkeypox Chart

In this brief, Overwatch analysts review how the narrative for monkeypox has evolved. Since the announcement from the WHO, there has continued to be a flood of misinformation, disinformation, and finger-pointing about the origin and reasons for the continued spread of the disease.

Misinformation Fuels Disinformation

The original assessment noted, “If misinformation spreads to countries like China or Russia, they could spread disinformation about the U.S. and Europe being responsible for the virus as was done with COVID-19.”

Since May, we have seen many articles in traditional mainstream news and publicly available sites and platforms conducting their journalistic responsibilities by questioning the U.S. response. Analysts identified occasional loose comparisons to the U.S. response to COVID-19 and questions about why we did not act against the new pandemic threat.

In most cases, articles addressed reasons, and promoters of disinformation used snippets or headlines to create unfounded accusations. Analysts have seen messages by pro-CCP group Wumao, claiming that the U.S. and Western countries are sending infected birds to spread monkeypox to China and other Asian countries. Wumao, or the 50cent army, is a pro-CCP group that creates comments or articles intended to derail negative sentiment toward the CCP.

The intent is to create more division and blame. The Chinese narratives emerged in May and have continued unabated but are largely overlooked in the U.S. digital environment.

Example of translated WhatsApp message spread throughout Indonesia:

Hey, guys. No matter where you are, if you see a bird that can’t fly, can’t walk or struggle on the ground, you should never catch it, for fear of monkeypox infection. The relevant community has informed you, please pay attention to it. Remember United States and Western countries used the birds to carry take the Monkeypox virus to spread to the Asian region! My sister sent it from Germany and asked me to inform family and friends immediately. Have relatives and friends on the notice, do not because of compassion, get infected unknowingly.


This message was baseless and allegedly produced by Wumao. References to the message were accompanied by keywords such as ’‘hoax’ and ‘fake story’ and have been mainly seen on Indonesian information platforms1.

This has illuminated that the CCP wants a vector of influence in Indonesia and surprisingly enough, there are truth watch dogs actively combating it. (Fitri Haryanti Harsono from Liputan6 and Dr. Adrian Wong from Techarp.com).

Other sources, such as the New Federal State of China (NFSC) Himalaya Australia, combat CCP influence by generating more false narratives compounding monkeypox misinformation. This can be incredibly dangerous when dealing with sensitive issues relating to pandemics or global health crises.

This post by the NFSC’s Miles Guo was spread across all major social media platforms3. There is an air of provocation in Guo’s voice as he speaks in his video of the CCPs potential retaliation due to the recent Taiwan visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In this video (*reference Wayback Machine if taken down from Twitter), Guo alleges that the CCP will create a new virus that will “most likely originate from the Middle East” and would be a variant of other diseases or created by “mating” desert wildlife.

The art of being first is how disinformation campaigns gain traction. The above post is meant to provoke the CCP into a response, legitimizing Guo and NFSC_HAGnews’ narrative. Being first in the narrative allows the NFSC_HAGNews to gain a following that observes the accused (CCP), having to combat quickly drafted messages of the accuser (NFSC_HAGNews).

As the number of verified infections grows, disinformation narratives will grow. Small enablers exacerbating public opinion in the U.S. will continue to add compelling and thought-provoking ideas on top of any press release or news article to capture and hold an audience’s attention.

* Specific posts or videos referencing misinformation and disinformation are often deleted from major social media and news sites. Using the Wayback machine, researchers can reference once deleted posts, articles, and videos that were archived. The Miles Guo video has been captured here in the Wayback Machine.

Targeted LGBTQ Community

What has taken hold of the U.S. social media landscape is the predominance of infections within the gay community, triggering emotional responses outside and within the community, in both pro and anti-camps. The CDC’s confirmation of the first monkeypox cases in the United States in two unrelated children at the end of July 2022 was when this was most apparent. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky made the following statement in a virtual event with the Washington Post, “Both of those children are traced back to individuals who come from the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, the gay men’s community…” The official statement released by the CDC went further on to state that both cases were “likely the result of household transmission.” And even though the release states that sexual contact is not the only way to spread the disease and heterosexuals can contract monkeypox just as quickly as persons who identify as “gay,” the polarizing narratives began almost immediately. On the same day of the updated release Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asked in a tweet, “If monkeypox is a sexually transmitted disease, why are kids getting it?” The tweet has over 38k likes and 9,879 retweets as of this writing.

The formula is textbook: CDC officials or public officials provide the most current information possible, a prominent official or social media influencer makes a rhetorical comment, and the ensuing chain of response allows disinformation narratives to flow into the larger conversation.

From the creation of fake memes pushing a particular narrative, such as the one created by Twitter user “The Ferryman’s Toll,” that has been retweeted 281 times.

To the reports of hate crimes being committed towards LGBTQ members, such as an August 9, 2022, report by the Daily News (Assuncao, 2022) that a Washington, D.C. gay couple was attacked by teens who called them “monkeypox f—-s.”

When facts are disregarded in order to increase one’s number of supporters, likes, or political status, echo chambers are created, and the ensuing misinformation and disinformation propagated within them can have disastrous results. Echo chambers exist because social media users do not take personal responsibility for information shared, and sharing occurs without full context or conducting further research, which can prevent polarizing narratives before they divert attention from the main issue.

World Health Organization (WHO) Perspective

The WHO closely monitors the outbreak and favors international cooperation and information sharing with partners and member states. Since the declaration, their messaging has been in line with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding how an individual contracts the virus. However, while WHO states in one tweet that “Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus and can fuel the outbreak,” WHO also has multiple tweets singling out the Men of the LGBTQ community.

Unfortunately, discriminatory tweets are becoming increasingly popular. While WHO’s messaging around monkeypox has focused on those currently most affected by the spread of the disease, gay men, there is an underlying danger that this approach could add fuel to the narrative that this is a disease affecting gay men only. As with Covid 19, when government messaging transforms to fit the new realities of a crisis, old messaging is often resurfaced and contorted to create disinformation. While Twitter can be an efficient medium to publish alerts, the lack of context allowed by character limits can often limit qualifying statements and the addition of vital context.

Our Assessment

We assess that misinformation and disinformation messaging will closely follow the increased number of those infected with monkeypox. This issue’s vector of influence won’t just stay within the confines of the United States. We have already demonstrated that anti-US and anti-CCP influencers are attempting to control the story in Asia and possibly the Middle East.

We stand by our original assessment that if outbreak numbers exceed acceptable levels, the likelihood of quarantines or mandatory government policies could be implemented to mitigate the spread of infection. If this happens, combined with negative popular sentiment due to successful disinformation messaging, we could see in-person protests leading to pockets of civil unrest.

Overwatch will continue to monitor Monkeypox-related issues arising in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Russia, and the U.S.

*Keyword associations to keep on alert; supply chain disruption, lockdown, mandatory vaccination, quarantine, Monkeypox, MPV, MPXV, contact tracing, or hMPXV.

*Google Alerts allows you to create a list of keywords to follow and have articles and posts sent daily to your email

OSINT Monitor Workflow

IBM Watson News Explorer




CDC Infection Rate Map

World Health Organization




  1. Adrian Wong, Is U.S. Sending Infected Birds To Spread Monkeypox?!


Anas Surya, Hoaxes Of The United States And European Countries Deliberately SpreadIng Monkey Pox To Asia – NEW OR HOAX


Fitri Haryanti Harsono, Viral message chain of transmission of Monkeypox carried by birds, is it?

Viral Pesan Berantai Penularan Cacar Monyet Dibawa oleh Burung, Apa Iya? – Health Liputan6.com (www-liputan6-com.translate.goog)

World Today, Viral message chain of transmission of monkeypox carried by birds, is it? https://www.world-today-news.com/viral-message-chain-of-transmission-of-monkeypox-carried-by-birds-is-it/

  1. Miles Guo, The CCP will most likely unleash another new virus!

https://gettr.com/post/p1lbsb5b7bb , (2) NFSC_HAGnews (@NFSC_HAGnews) / Twitter , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrAmk2N5VQI , Chinese whistleblower Miles Guo: “Monkeypox is just an excuse! (bitchute.com)

  1. Muri Assuncao, Washington, D.C. gay couple say they were attacked by 2 teens, who called them ‘monkeypox f—-ts’


  1. World Health Organization (WHO) Twitter Page https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1552286397054287875

Dispelling Misinformation About Monkeypox

On May 7, 2022, an unidentified individual in the United Kingdom was diagnosed with the monkeypox virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus.” The monkeypox virus is a cousin of the smallpox virus.

Health officials in the U.K. said that the unidentified person traveled to Nigeria, where hundreds of monkeypox cases have occurred since April 2019.

From May 7, 2022, to the time of writing this brief, 92 other cases of monkeypox have been confirmed globally. On May 22, 2022, President Joe Biden said of monkeypox, “They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about.”

For this brief, we conducted further research into monkeypox, its recent spread outside of the African continent, and identified misinformation narratives about the disease.


Monkeypox was first identified in laboratory primates in 1958. However, the disease is also found in a variety of rodents. The first human case of monkeypox was diagnosed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From 1970 to 1979, 47 other disease cases were reported in West and Central Africa. A 1980 Abstract from the Bulletin of the World Health Organization claims that monkeypox mostly infected children with a fatality rate of 17%. However, health officials currently report that monkeypox has a fatality rate anywhere from 3-6% in severe cases.

In 2003, there was a multistate outbreak of monkeypox, impacting Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Ohio. Per the CDC, the source of the outbreak was pet prairie dogs. The prairie dogs had come from animal distributors in Texas and Illinois. Open-source research suggests that none of the 2003 cases resulted in fatalities.

In 2021, health officials documented two cases of the monkeypox virus from U.S. citizens in Texas and Maryland. Both U.S. citizens had traveled to Nigeria before contracting the virus.

The Cleveland Clinic describes monkeypox as “a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s found mostly in areas of Africa but has been seen in other areas of the world. Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash develops within a few days. There’s no proven treatment for monkeypox, but it usually goes away on its own.”

Where Has It Spread  

There are confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., Australia, Switzerland, the U.K., Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Greece, and Germany. Currently, there are no recorded fatalities. Many people diagnosed with the virus are either hospitalized or isolated.

Thus far, Belgium has implemented mandatory quarantines for monkeypox patients. Those who contract monkeypox in Belgium are required to quarantine for 21 days. Additionally, U.K. health officials require a 21-day quarantine for high-risk monkeypox cases.

In an interview with CNBC, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said of the spread of the virus outside of Africa. “Now that there’s been community spread, it may be hard to fully snub this out. I don’t think it’s going to become a major epidemic because this is a virus that’s difficult to spread.”

There are two confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., one in New York state and the other in Massachusetts. In addition, there is a suspected monkeypox case in Florida and a second in New York state.

NBC News reported that monkeypox might have spread from raves in Europe. “In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.”

Misinformation about Monkeypox

As of the writing of this brief, there are 8,950 tweets an hour about monkeypox. Many of those tweets include misinformation narratives about the virus.

Some tweets claim that tech tycoon Bill Gates and Dr. Anthony Fauci are behind monkeypox.

Other tweets suggest that a 2021 tabletop exercise focused on monkeypox from the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit organization aimed at preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction and stopping other catastrophic attacks, means it was a planned outbreak.

While the NTI did partner with the Munich Security Conference to simulate what would happen if a monkeypox terrorist attack occurred, such exercises from NIT are quite common.

In 2022, the NTI and Munich Security Conference created a scenario with a fictional bioweapons attack. The NTI wrote of the scenario, “The exercise scenario involved a localized bioweapons attack against cattle in the fictional country of Andoriban with a genetically engineered strain of the Akhmeta virus. While the attack was intended to cause targeted economic damage, the virus quickly spills over into humans and continues to spread, rapidly evolving into a global pandemic.”

In 2020, the NTI partnered with the Munich Security Conference for a tabletop exercise regarding a “human-engineered” pathogen and an accidental release of the pathogen from a bio laboratory.

In 2019, the NTI partnered with Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security and the Center for Global Development to determine how coordinated Command and Control might be used in a rapidly spreading biological event.

The NTI theory is also spreading on the Russian social media website VK.

Analysts note that tabletop exercises, where simulated outbreaks occur, frequently happen in the field of epidemiology and biological threat research. The following screenshots are from tabletop exercises about Ebola, SARS, and smallpox.

We did not identify any disinformation from hostile actors like the People’s Republic of China or the Russian Federation.


Our research suggests that very soon, there will likely be more confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S. and globally. The more documented cases of the virus, the higher the likelihood of mandatory quarantines like in Belgium or other government policies to mitigate the spread of the disease. Any stricter measures will likely be followed by significant resistance, with in-person protests as we have seen with COVID-19 mandates.

While there is no official monkeypox vaccine, the smallpox vaccine is 85% effective against the virus. Should the virus become a pandemic in the U.S., the government and pharmaceutical companies would work together for a vaccine supply against the disease, offering doses to the population, likely similar to the vaccine rollout with COVID-19.

If monkeypox spreads to countries like China or Russia, they could spread disinformation about the U.S and Europe being responsible for the virus, as was done with COVID-19. Further, as China continues to deal with coronavirus outbreaks, a large spread of monkeypox cases could potentially result in more lockdowns inside the country and supply chain disruptions.