Should we worry about Monkeypox?

19th of July 2022
Should we worry about Monkeypox?

Lynn Webster in the UK on how the cleaning sector is assessing another virus in the news.

As we are becoming less fraught after dealing with the height of the Covid pandemic, and some level of normality returns to our lives, we face the potential risk from the recent changes in behaviours of another envelope virus. Monkeypox.

Whilst we are assured by medical and epidemiology experts this is unlikely to become life-threatening the outbreak is certainly gaining attention. It has taken scientists who study it carefully by surprise so therefore has raised our cleaning antennae another notch.

Symptoms are reported to be fevers; headaches; swelling and aching muscles but clearly the focus becomes the rash that turns to unsightly infected pustules and lesions. The common modes of transmission are through respiratory tract or human to human contact, with the greatest environmental risk from fabrics, linens or clothing. So we need to highlight our focus on bed linens, bath towels and soft furnishings such as sofas and curtains as well as carpets.

Reactivity is second nature to our cleaning profession so continuity plans kick into place and revised risk assessments are prepared. Some key sectors where most concern will be felt are likely to include hospitality (as well as the obvious healthcare sector) with clearly highlighted regimes in the laundry process of hotel bedding and bath towels. Car leasing, with regular changes of drivers, creates concerns with fabric contact as do commercial buildings with predominantly soft furnishings in public areas.

Public Health England advice includes standard washing cycles above 60 degrees with added hypochlorite unnecessary. Cleaning techniques of general soft fabrics and carpets will need to revert to steam cleaning.

In most scenarios vacuums being used will already have appropriate HEPA filtration in place and correct protocols for removal of all waste.

In late May the number of cases was increasing dramatically from single figures to over 100 in a matter of weeks across various geographical areas, that could continue to grow. It may be a short-term issue that goes as quickly as it materialised with Monkeypox being ‘old news’ in a matter of months but maybe not; and there will always be another virus ready to mutate.

What it clearly shows is professional and effective cleaning is at the heart of controlling every potential outbreak and the vital role it plays keeping everyone healthy, safe and well.
At the height of the pandemic the value of cleaning and the public perception of cleaning was clearly recognised.

Unfortunately, there are still many who do not appreciate this with their inaccurate and outdated views. This current situation, and with the potential risks of more volatile virus outbreaks in the future here is a stark reminder. This includes reiterating to our politicians, civil servants and members of parliament the crucial role cleaning and hygiene plays in the health of the country.

The lobbying continues through the work of the British Cleaning Council (BCC) through its recently launched campaign ‘We Clean, We Care’ and its development of the apprenticeship. You may wish to join it in promoting the wider recognition of the vital job all members of the cleaning profession do (available as pin badges; marketing materials and through presence on social media).


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