Monkeypox ‘Emergency of International Concern’

A disease spreading mostly among gay men is now infecting small children.

Yesterday, we learned that monkeypox has moved one step closer to pandemic status.

ABC News (“WHO declares monkeypox outbreak to be public health emergency of international concern“):

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of monkeypox to be a public health emergency of international concern.

“The global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva Saturday.

At the virtual press conference, Ghebreyesus also said that the outbreak has spread around the world “rapidly,” including those that had not seen it before, and that officials understand “too little” about the disease. The risk of monkeypox is moderate globally except in the European region, where the risk is assessed as high, he said.

Ghebreyesus also outlined a set of recommendations for countries that have not yet reported a case of monkeypox or have not reported a case for 21 days; those with recently imported cases of monkeypox that are experiencing human-to-human transmission; those with transmission of monkeypox between animals and humans; and those with manufacturing capacities for diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

This elevated status is rare.

This is the seventh event declared a PHEIC by the global health agency since 2007.

The other six include the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009; the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013 to 2015; the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2018 to 2020; the Zika outbreak in 2016; the ongoing spread of poliovirus that started in 2014; and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The numbers are attention-getting, as is the growth:

More than 16,000 monkeypox cases have now been detected across the globe in 75 countries and territories, according to the WHO. Thus far, five deaths have been reported, all of which have occurred in Africa.

In the United States, more than 2,800 cases are confirmed in 44 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New York, which has reported the highest number in the U.S., a total of 900 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed, with the vast majority of them — 93% — detected in New York City, state officials said Friday.

US health officials are obviously concerned as well.

CNN (“As Fauci warns monkeypox needs to be taken more seriously, former FDA commissioner says the window to control it ‘probably has closed’“):

As cases of monkeypox continue to rise in the US, a top health official is stressing that the outbreak needs to be handled in a more rigorous manner.

“This is something we definitely need to take seriously. We don’t know the scope and the potential of it yet, but we have to act like it will have the capability of spreading much more widely than it’s spreading right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Saturday.

Former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that it may be too late to control and contain the virus.

“I think the window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed. If it hasn’t closed, it’s certainly starting to close,” Gottlieb told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

Monkeypox has been detected throughout most of the US, except for a handful of states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The states with the most cases include New York, California, Illinois and Florida.

The latest data shows that the CDC has tracked at least 1,814 probable or confirmed cases in the US, as of Friday, and a total of 12,556 confirmed cases in 68 countries.

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s Laura Coates that the numbers are “very likely an undercount.”

“Whenever you have the emergence of something like this, you are always probably looking at what might be — might be, we don’t know — the tip of the iceberg, so that’s the reason why we’ve got to get the testing out there in a much, much more vigorous way,” Fauci said.

Of course, given the politicization over COVID, it’s quite likely that huge swaths of folks will view these warnings with cynicism—more public health officials using fear to increase their own power and control over us.*

Regardless, as I try to wrap my head around this spread, I find much of the reporting confusing.

WaPo attempts an explainer with “Understanding Monkeypox and How Outbreaks Spread.”

The global eradication of smallpox more than 40 years ago was one of the greatest achievements in public-health history, vanquishing a cause of death, blindness and disfigurement that had plagued humanity for at least 3,000 years. But, on the downside, it also led to the end of a global vaccination program that provided protection against other pox viruses. That includes monkeypox, which has been spilling over from its animal hosts to infect humans in West and Central Africa with increasing frequency since the 1970s. Now monkeypox has sparked unprecedented outbreaks in Europe, the US and elsewhere, demonstrating again how readily an infectious agent that emerges in one region can mushroom into a global emergency.

[…]

3. How is it transmitted?

Monkeypox doesn’t usually spread easily between people. Close contact with the virus from an infected animal, human or contaminated object is the main pathway. Most reported cases in the 2022 outbreaks have been linked to skin-to-skin contact with someone infected with this virus, such as during sex. The pathogen enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth, rectum and anus. Clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties and other activities where there is close contact with many people may also increase the risk of exposure, especially if people are wearing less clothing. Tests on patient saliva, rectal swabs, semen, urine and fecal samples found traces of the virus that could indicate the infectious potential of these bodily fluids and their potential role in disease transmission by close physical contact during sexual activity, a study from Spain found. Transmission from mother-to-unborn baby has also been documented. It can also happen indirectly through contact with contaminated clothing or linens. Common household disinfectants can kill it. 

4. What’s unusual this time?

There have been multiple chains of human-to-human transmission occurring, including in sexual networks. 

• Cases don’t involve recent travel to places in Africa where the disease is endemic.

Although anyone can get monkeypox, most cases occur in men. In endemic areas of Africa, it was thought that was related to hunting practices, whereas in the current outbreak, most individuals are men aged 21 to 40 years who have sex with men, people with multiple sexual partners, or people who practice condomless sex. Close skin-to-skin contact during sex is the primary mode of transmission in such cases. [emphasis mine]

• Flu-like symptoms haven’t always preceded the rash, and some patients first sought medical care for lesions in the genital and perianal region.

• In some cases, the lesions are mostly located at these sites, making them hard to distinguish from syphilis, herpes simplex virus, shingles and other more common infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NBC News (“Monkeypox is being driven overwhelmingly by sex between men, major study finds“) elaborates on the highlighted point:

The global monkeypox outbreak is primarily being driven by sex between men, according to the first major peer-reviewed paper to analyze a large set of cases of the virus.

The outbreak, which epidemiologists believe initially began in mid-spring gatherings of gay and bisexual men in Europe, has since alarmed such experts by ballooning to nearly 16,000 cases worldwide. 

Now infectious disease specialists are developing an increasingly refined understanding of the predominant conduits of monkeypox transmission, as well as the typical disease course patterns.

“These data point clearly to the fact that infections are so far almost exclusively occurring among men who have sex with men,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University, of the new study, which was published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. “And the clinical presentation of these infections suggest that sexual transmission, not just close physical contact, may be helping spread the virus among this population.”

“This large, multicountry study provides the most complete set of clinical and demographic data on monkeypox cases occurring outside endemic areas,” said Nuzzo, who was not involved with the study. 

No one has died of monkeypox infection outside of Africa during this outbreak. And for many people, the disease is relatively mild and resolves on its own in a few weeks without any need for medical intervention. However, the new paper reports that monkeypox can cause pain so intense that a substantial proportion of people with the virus require hospitalization for pain management. 

[…]

In the United States, confirmed cases of monkeypox have increased dramatically in recent weeks, to 2,593 as of Thursday. With fears mounting among infectious disease experts that the virus will become endemic in the U.S. and around the world, the Biden administration has been subject to intense criticism by activists and the public health community that its health agencies failed to act quickly enough to stem the outbreak. 

The recent sharp rise in U.S. monkeypox diagnoses could be driven in part by increased testing, especially after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought onboard five commercial testing companies during the past two weeks. 

Public health experts also theorize that major LGBTQ Pride gatherings in June may have facilitated transmission of the virus. And given the infection’s incubation period — the new paper puts it at seven days, with a range of three to 20 days — the nation is now possibly seeing the resulting downstream effects of sexual encounters in late June and early July.

I must admit, aside from headlines, I’d largely not paid a lot of attention to the monkeypox outbreak. But this morning was somehow the first hint I’d gotten that it’s largely a sexually-transmitted disease. That rather puts it in a different category than COVID or other outbreaks that pass through the air or other casual contact. Obviously, we still need to contain the disease. But it radically changes the nature of the mitigation measures surrounding it.

But, if that’s the case, how does one explain this?

Guardian (“Monkeypox: US reports its first cases of virus in children“):

Cases of monkeypox have been identified in the United States for the first time in children – a toddler in California and an infant who is not a US resident, health authorities say.

The two cases of the viral disease were unrelated and were likely the result of household transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Friday.

Presumably, these individuals aren’t having unprotected sex with gay men. So, obviously, there are other ways to catch this virus?

Speaking on a conference call, Dr Jennifer McQuiston, the deputy director of the CDC’s division of high consequence pathogens and pathology, said it was not a surprise that pediatric cases of monkeypox had emerged, but “there is no evidence to date that we are seeing this virus spread outside” the communities of gay, bisexual and other men who had sex with men.

She said 99% of the 2,891 monkeypox cases confirmed in the US involved men who have sex with men, but there had been a handful of women and transgender men who had become infected.

Well, alrightee then.

Oh, despite news a month ago that WHO was going to rename this virus because of unfortunate stigmas, it apparently hasn’t yet happened. At this point, it’s unlikely any new name is going to catch on.

________________

*I was at my ophthalmologist’s office in DC Monday and there was a sign requiring all who entered to wear a mask. Having long since fallen out of the habit, I didn’t have one with me and asked for one, which I was graciously provided. The elderly gentleman in front of me not only refused to wear his but proclaimed it a “compliance mask” for Democrats. When the head nurse followed him to his seat, insisting, he still refused, demanding to see the doctor. The doctor finally came out and told him he must either wear the mask or leave. He initially put it on but ultimately left without being seen. (He also ranted about the outrage that the office doesn’t validate parking in the building’s garage.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    1. There’s a difference between an STD and a disease that is being transmitted sexually but is not an STD. e.g. if you have mono and have sex with someone else, you’re probably going to give them mono, but that’s not how most mono infections occur.

    2. The intense focus on gay men with regards to monkeypox was primarily about providing a reason to do as little as possible about it.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: If it’s in fact true that “99% of the 2,891 monkeypox cases confirmed in the US involved men who have sex with men,” this is for all intents and purposes an STD. So is herpes. It doesn’t mean that sex is the only means of transmission.

    And I’m honestly not seeing any arguments from anyone whose opinions matter that we should “do as little as possible about it.” The main obstacle, frankly, is that we’re already in pandemic fatigue from COVID>

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  3. wr says:

    “The main obstacle, frankly, is that we’re already in pandemic fatigue from COVID>”

    I understand you’re just describing a phenomenon, and my irritation is not at you but at those you describe…

    …but what the hell is wrong with people? Did we all grow up eating lead paint chips? How stupid have we become? “Pandemic fatigue?” What, because we’re tired of dealing with one plague we think that another can’t happen? Or maybe we just spent all our energy on Covid, so let’s watch as a new disease grows out of control because it’s easier than doing anything about it?

    At this point, while it’s a tragedy that so many other innocent species are going to wiped out by global warming, humans just flat out deserve whatever happens to them.

    9
  4. The good news/bad news (ok, bad news) of this disease is that if it actually does hit pandemic proportions in the broader population, it will be impossible to deny what it is, what with the actual pox and all.

    One of the main problems with the COVID pandemic, from a policy POV, is that infected people were not always obviously sick.

    4
  5. Han says:
  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’d note that between 50-80% of US adults have herpes, and the vast majority of them did not get it from sex:

    Oral Herpes

    You’re more likely to have gotten herpes from a doorknob than from sex with an infected person.

    And just yesterday, I pointed to an article noting that the US response to monkeypox is lagging far behind Canada, the EU, the UK, etc. And yes, I’m sure no one in the current administration is explicitly going around saying, “let’s do nothing about monkeypox”, but it’s also clearly not a priority, and part of the reason it is not a priority is that as long as it’s seen as just a “gay disease”, it’s going to be something that can be dealt with whenever, not something that has to be dealt expeditiously.

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  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    99% of the 2,891 monkeypox cases confirmed in the US involved men who have sex with men,

    I’d also point out that just because a disease is occurring primarily among “men who have sex with men”, doesn’t mean that the sex itself was the transmission vector. It could be transmitting through casual contact withing LGBT social circles because LGBT people tend to hang out with lots of over LGBT people socially.

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  8. Han says:
  9. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    Clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties and other activities where there is close contact with many people may also increase the risk of exposure, especially if people are wearing less clothing.

    While I’m not currently having sex with men, I’m probably going to get vaxxed since I’m frequently at raves with men who have sex with men and I’m dancing with, uh, little to no clothes. If I’m going to get it, that’s how I’ll get it and bring it to my children.

    2
  10. Beth says:

    @Han:

    With her in particular, I don’t know if she realizes we have families. I mean, I know she thinks we’re all rapists, but come on.

    Then again, Dr. Joyner didn’t seem to either. And I’m not trying to be bitchy, joint point it out.

    3
  11. Slugger says:

    Eight billion humans plus jet plane speed travel equals rapid spread of pathogens. We need to have public health measures to ameliorate this situation. There are serious potential risks out there. Unfortunately, our political polarization will undermine these efforts.

    1
  12. Cheryl Rofer says:

    But this morning was somehow the first hint I’d gotten that it’s largely a sexually-transmitted disease.

    …this is for all intents and purposes an STD. So is herpes. It doesn’t mean that sex is the only means of transmission.

    This formulation hurts our response to the monkeypox outbreak. Too many people will think they are not having sex with those outside their immediate relationships and therefore it’s not their problem. Additionally, the Q crowd are now implying that the fact that children have been infected implies that their vicious ideas about “groomers” are correct.

    It appears that monkeypox isn’t as easily transmitted through the air as smallpox or Covid, but it’s transmitted by pretty much every other route. So please, James, drop the emphasis on STD. It’s true that most of the people who are infected now are MSM, but if we handle this as badly as we did Covid, that won’t be the case in a month.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have never profited so well from my personality disorders. You couldn’t get me to go to a rave if you had a shotgun on me. It’s not even about being old. When I was young and very committed to getting laid I still wouldn’t dance. It was an extra hurdle that made the game that much harder.

    It’s a great time for anti-social work-at-home misfits. Remember the old Streisand song? People who need people, are the sickest motherfuckers in the world. I think that’s how it goes. Working from memory, here.

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  14. Gustopher says:

    We’ve only been testing men who have sex with men, so it’s going to look like it’s contained within that community, regardless of who actually has it. Currently, you can also only get the vaccine if you are a man who has sex with men.

    @Beth may have to misgender herself if she wants to get that vaccine soon. (Sorry, Beth)

    This new pandemic has been atrociously handled so far. And the focus on gay men is going to get people killed.

    And now for some potentially irresponsible speculation on my part — why now? Monkey pox has been a thing for ages, and is semi-common in several parts of the world, but we haven’t had outbreaks in Europe and North America before, so what has changed?

    Either the virus itself has changed, or the environment has. We are having a pretty massive heat wave, that would be closer to the tropical conditions the virus is commonly contained in. We also have a large population that has gotten covid, which may mess with the immune system permanently.

    I expect it is the heat, and that climate change is going to make a lot of tropical diseases just plain diseases. It’s the simplest answer and seems inevitable at some point.

    But that also means the CDC should be preparing for more exciting outbreaks of diseases that we think of as third world problems.

    8
  15. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    this is for all intents and purposes an STD

    NOPE. Full stop here. This is what happened with COVID and AIDS before it. Dismissing a disease because one thinks one cannot be infected by it (a “gay disease”, “only hurts old people
    “, etc) is how epidemics happen. Framing is EVERYTHING

    Categorizing it as “essentially an STD” means you will be pushing the mentality that a person cannot be infected if they aren’t engaging in sex. This is utterly untrue as monkeypox (like most ‘poxes) are transmitted by contact. It leads to false security and community spread as everyone goes “I’m fine!” until they are not. Remember chickenpox before the vax and how easily someone caught it? That’s what we’re looking at and it’s how people should respond. Once kids get it, it’s OVER – we’ll all have it soon enough. You don’t have kids? Your doctor does, the guy making your food does and damn near everyone in the store, office or everywhere you go does. Gloves might be the new mask……

    Worse, we don’t know if it will end up mimicking the behaviors of other poxes and lingering around in your system to inconveniently show up later in life aka shingles. Wouldn’t that be fun, 20 years down the road and surprise! Revenge of monkeypox to curse your life because it was easier to categorize it as an STD and not worry about it.

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  16. Beth says:

    @Gustopher:

    I currently have not having sex with men either, what’s a little misgendering between me and the vaccine.

    The simple fact is I mostly hang out around other queer people, I’d rather not have that be a vector to my kids.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Come on daddy, come to a rave with me. You can look all cute and grumpy and buy me drinks.

    4
  17. Gustopher says:

    Regardless, as I try to wrap my head around this spread, I find much of the reporting confusing.

    This is because the reporting has been terrible.

    I mean both the CDC reports and the news reports that are based on that. @Han posted a link to a thread by an internet cat that is pretty good at explaining why the current reporting is terrible.

    (Typically the cat is more knowledgeable about worker rights, so this is quite a surprising turn)

    I don’t blame you for being confused. The CDC has been downplaying Monkey Pox and making it sound like a gay disease in the gay community that no one else needs to worry about (you claim to have not paid attention, but I expect you paid enough attention to say “oh, that’s not me” and then just skim headlines after that). When it inevitably starts breaking out of that community, you are going to be confused.

    ETA: I’m not saying that your post is good — it is not. Merely the fact that it is not good is understandable.

    99% of the 2,891 monkeypox cases confirmed in the US involved men who have sex with men,

    We are basically only testing men who have sex with men. You only see what you’re looking for.

    So, that number is very suspect, and shouldn’t be relied upon. If kids are getting it… clearly other people are as well.

    8
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Beth:
    Ever watch the show Silicon Valley? At parties, dinners, get-togethers and all manner of social events, I am Gilfoyle. I will always be the first person to start talking about death. And my anecdotes all start off sort of charming and end with people thinking, WTF?

    Thank God women so often love the bad boys, or I’d have had a lonely life.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: <@Gustopher:

    Monkey pox has been a thing for ages, and is semi-common in several parts of the world, but we haven’t had outbreaks in Europe and North America before, so what has changed?

    From the OP:

    The global eradication of smallpox more than 40 years ago was one of the greatest achievements in public-health history, vanquishing a cause of death, blindness and disfigurement that had plagued humanity for at least 3,000 years. But, on the downside, it also led to the end of a global vaccination program that provided protection against other pox viruses.

    I’m old enough to have been vaxxed for smallpox but my kids weren’t. As time has gone by the percentage of un-vaxxed people has gotten higher, making transmission much more likely.

    Which is not to say that climate changes don’t contribute but, in retrospect, this was always going to happen given that Monkeypox has been endemic for many generations. Smallpox was eradicated without also eradicating Monkeypox because, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t universal vaccination that resulted in eradication. Instead, widespread (but not universal) vaccination got the numbers down to where individual cases could be quickly identified and teams and supplies dropped in to ensure proper procedures were followed and that the close contacts of each victim were vaccinated to at least two degrees of separation. But they were targeting Smallpox and not Monkeypox because Monkeypox is much less fatal. Smallpox has a mortality rate of 30% or more, while Monkeypox is 3-6%, and substantially less in countries with good health care systems.

    2
  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    We are basically only testing men who have sex with men. You only see what you’re looking for.

    So, that number is very suspect, and shouldn’t be relied upon. If kids are getting it… clearly other people are as well.

    Monkeypox is a painful rash with blisters. As a kid (pre-vaccination era) I had two such diseases: measles and chickenpox. There is no question when you have them. Believe me. No question. You don’t need to test. Basically, you are not contagious and feel fine and then you are covered in painful blisters and are contagious. I don’t see that a widespread testing regime would accomplish anything useful, given the false negatives and false positives it would bring about.

    A lot of contact diseases (and I think Monkeypox falls into that broader category as there is nothing specific to sexual intercourse about the transmission, as far as I’ve seen) are going to manifest first in high risk populations and that is important to know because then you can target those groups and try to stop the problem there before it spreads into the wider population. Rather than public health officials doing nothing because it is only LGBTQ+, they are targeting those populations in the hopes of eliminating there before it gets out of control.

    People with lots of sexual partners fall into high risk for contact diseases, but so do other groups. Athletes, nail salon and spa attendants and frequent customers, and also, as every parent knows only too well, children, especially the youngest children. If this gets into nursery schools it will spread really quickly.

    3
  21. steve says:

    STD has a specific connotation (and definition) James. You actually need to have sex to transmit the disease. You dont need that for monkeypox. It is hard to transmit so you need a lot of close physical contact. I am sure you remember the toddler stage. They seek out physical contact. How many times did you wake up to find the 2 year old in bed with you? What’s the likelihood that said 2 y/o has some scrapes somewhere so his skin is not intact? So its not surprising that kids get monkeypox as it is socially acceptable to have a lot of physical contact with them that is not sexual.

    What I am telling pts, and what our ID folks say is that it is not an STD, but we are most likely to see it in MSM. They have the prolonged close contact most likely to transmit and contract the disease. That said, others get monkeypox. Its not an STD or MSM only.

    (I am old enough to have been in early stages of medical career when AIDS came along. It was seen as the gay plague. A lot of AIDS got diagnosed later than it should since some people refused to believe straight people could get AIDS.)

    Steve

    8
  22. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Monkeypox is a painful rash with blisters. As a kid (pre-vaccination era) I had two such diseases: measles and chickenpox. There is no question when you have them. Believe me. No question. You don’t need to test.

    But, is it monkey pox, chicken pox, shingles, or some other unpleasant condition?

    We aren’t testing outside of the LGBTQetc community, and are frequently assuming it is one of the other dermatological conditions.

    There is limited testing capacity, but we have a big blind spot right now.

    Basically, you are not contagious and feel fine and then you are covered in painful blisters and are contagious.

    If this were strictly true, there would be almost no spread.

    People don’t hang out with people covered in painful blisters, as a rule. Let alone have close bodily contact with them. (I’m sure that’s someone’s thing, but generally)

    If you are covered in blisters, you are doubtless way more contagious, but there are clearly cases that are contagious but less obvious — either because the blisters are in the process of forming, or because they are few enough that they can be mistaken for a minor skin condition.

    3
  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Indeed! In fact, I will note that many who will be among the “huge swaths of folks will view these warnings with cynicism” will surely note the common feature that New York, California, Florida, and Illinois (??? but someone will make up something) in order to observe that monkey pox is some kind of judgement from God.

    I’ll just note that it must be a sign of the apocalypse because it certainly MUST be one of the curses mentioned in Revelations. 😉

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: “Did we all grow up eating lead paint chips?”

    Well, I can’t eliminate that as a possibility. It really would explain a lot of what’s going on here. [eyeroll]

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Han: How do voles come into play in Jorts’ tweets? Are they part of the cast?

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: “I don’t know if she realizes we have families.”

    If I were going to guess (and be cynical), my guess would be that LGBTQ+s with families would be outliers in MTGs intellectual calculus (or even her un-/anti- intellectual calculus). TL/DR: No, she doesn’t. (But does that really matter? Isn’t she really suggesting that monkey pox is made-up shit?)

  27. Gustopher says:

    @wr:

    …but what the hell is wrong with people? Did we all grow up eating lead paint chips?

    My brother used to eat paint chips because he thought it was funny. The PSAs about “don’t eat paint chips” were just an encouragement to him.

    If he were 20-30 years younger he would have been eating Tide Pods (despite that basically being a joke that no one did).

    He also thinks masks don’t work, and works in air quality monitoring for asbestos removal. Also science is generally suspect because of the Clovis people (don’t know…) and we grew up in a mini-ice-age in the 70s, so it’s not getting hotter things are just returning to normal because of sunspots.

    I’d like to think he is an outlier, but the more I go through life, the more I realize he isn’t.

    I don’t know which is worse — the people who park their ass in front of Fox, or the people who do their own research.

    4
  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @wr:

    but what the hell is wrong with people? Did we all grow up eating lead paint chips?

    This is your periodic reminder that everyone from Gen X or earlier is suffering some degree of brain damage due to chronic lead exposure because of leaded gasoline. 😉

    3
  29. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    this is your periodic reminder that everyone from Gen X or earlier is suffering some degree of brain damage due to chronic lead exposure because of leaded gasoline.

    Oh thank dawg! And here I thought it was everything I smoked/drank/inhaled in the 70’s…(snark)
    Well, that &the chemo. I figured I was about 40% low by now.

    @Gustopher:
    Mmmm, chocolate frosted sugar bombs with paint chips. Them’s good eating!

    1
  30. R. Dave says:

    @KM: Framing is EVERYTHING

    Hard disagree. REALITY is everything. The public health world’s focus on framing, spinning, etc. during COVID was a big hit to their credibility (with the “normals”, not just the nutters). They are supposed to be health experts, not PR flacks. Just give us the facts and the advice without the b.s. concerns about framing and spin.

  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    I’m actually serious. Deciding to deliberately add lead to something we plan to burn and vent into the general environment in large quantities is one of the most bone-headed decisions mankind has made in the entirety of human civilization.

    1
  32. Kurtz says:

    @Beth:

    Come on daddy, come to a rave with me. You can look all cute and grumpy and buy me drinks.

    Please, please, oh my, nooooo. MR’s post made me laugh. At worst, the picture in my head was humorously awkward and kind of hit close to home for me wrt the game.

    But “daddy” and “cute?” Bridge too far, Beth. I still have the same facial expression from my initial read after typing all this out. And it feels like what I imagine DeSantis’s permanent grimace feels like to him.

    I’m going to visit the toilet and deliberately purge now.