Reuters Forced To Fact-Check Claims That Beto O’Rourke Caught Monkeypox
HUMBLE, TEXAS - AUGUST 24: Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks to gestures during a campaign rally on August 24, 2022 in Humble, Texas. O'Rourke is running against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on November 8. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Reuters was forced to fact-check claims that Texas gubernatorial candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D) had contracted monkeypox after the former congressman announced he was taking some time to recover from an undisclosed illness.

“After feeling ill on Friday, I went to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio where I was diagnosed with a bacterial infection,” O’Rourke tweeted on Sunday. “The extraordinary team there — from custodians to nurses and doctors — gave me excellent care and attention, including IV antibiotics and rest.”

“While my symptoms have improved, I will be resting at home in El Paso in accordance with the doctors’ recommendations,” he continued. “I am sorry to have had to postpone events because of this, but promise to be back on the road with you as soon as I am able.”

The majority of people responded to the news by wishing O’Rourke a speedy recovery. However, shortly after he made the announcement, a few people began to tweet their (unfounded) suspicions that the Texas politician was actually recovering from monkeypox.

“Has anyone in the media even asked Beto O’Rourke who he got monkeypox from?” @PartymanRandy tweeted. “If a Republican had to suspend their campaign due to monkeypox, you know the media would demand every detail. But since it’s Beto O’Rourke who has monkeypox, they aren’t even curious.”

“How did Beto get monkeypox?” another asked.

Despite the lack of any evidence confirming the rumor, enough people began spreading it that Reuters stepped in and published a fact check stating that the claims were false.

Noting that the people who originally began circulating the claim had not presented any evidence, the outlet also pointed out the fact that monkeypox is a virus — related to smallpox and cowpox — rather than a bacterial infection that can be treated with simple antibiotics.

Reuters also published a statement from a spokesperson for O’Rourke, who said, “The claims are false. Doctors diagnosed Beto with a bacterial infection, which they treated with antibiotics. His symptoms continue to improve and he will be back on the road as soon as he is able.”

As for Reuters’ final verdict on the issue?

“No evidence. Beto O’Rourke’s spokesperson told Reuters that the Democratic candidate for Governor fell ill from a bacterial infection, not monkeypox.”

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