- A baseless conspiracy theory about the origins of monkeypox is circulating on Chinese social media.
- Posters on China's Weibo platform said the monkeypox virus was created and released from a US lab.
- However, the first human case of monkeypox was detected in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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A baseless conspiracy theory has been brewing on Chinese social media about the origins of the monkeypox outbreak in the US and Europe.
In viral topic threads on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform, many users have accused the US of intentionally creating and leaking the monkeypox virus.
Contrary to these claims, the virus was first discovered in 1958, and the first case of human monkeypox infection was logged in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the disease has rarely spread among humans, the current outbreak of the virus in the US, UK, and Europe has been linked to community transmissions.
One particular Weibo thread on cases of monkeypox being confirmed in the US garnered more than 80 million views as of press time on Tuesday, with many sharing unverified theories about the virus' origins.
"The US is known for creating viruses to harm the entire globe," read one user's comment. Another user speculated that the US had been "planning the outbreak from the early days."
One user even baselessly claimed that an "American terrorist organization" linked to the US government was waging a bio-war on the world while urging people in China to be "on-guard" and "well-prepared" for an attack.
Meanwhile, other posts on the topic thread floated wild theories that the monkeypox virus was manufactured in a laboratory, then spread to humans by escaped monkeys purposefully infected with the virus.
"If the US let loose the virus to spread around the world, it's harming the global health of people. The US should be reprimanded by the international community and made to pay compensation," wrote another Weibo user.
Rare instances of monkeypox, which causes boils and full-body rashes, have been detected in the US over the years. In 2003, the US experienced its first domestic outbreak of monkeypox after some patients came into contact with pet prairie dogs housed near small mammals imported from Ghana.
Isolated cases of monkeypox were also reported in July 2021 and November 2021, in US residents who traveled to Nigeria.
The first confirmed US case in the current outbreak was diagnosed in Massachusetts last week and involved a man who recently traveled to Canada. However, experts said the virus might have been circulating for months.
Chinese social media users have previously spread strange theories about the US. For instance, in March, users were fixated on a baseless conspiracy theory claiming that Covid-19 was produced by US-linked labs in Ukraine.