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Key Information About Monkeypox

Updated on July 15, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.


Monkeypox is recognized as the most important orthopoxvirus infection in humans in the smallpox post-eradication era.

Smallpox was declared eradicated from the world in 1980, meaning cases of the disease no longer occur naturally. But human cases of monkeypox continue to occur sporadically.

Monkeypox virus is endemic in Central and West Africa. The disease is known as monkeypox because it was discovered in monkeys in 1958.

" ... monkeypox is no longer a 'rare disease' as previously thought as cases of the disease continued to be reported since September 2017 when the resurgence was reported in Nigeria,” Yinka-Ogunleye told Infectious Disease News.

Adesola Yinka-Ogunleye, MPH, is a senior epidemiologist at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Monkeypox Virus

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

The etiological agent of monkeypox is an Orthopoxvirus, the genus of the Poxviridae family that also includes the smallpox virus, vaccinia virus (used for smallpox immunization) and the viruses of cowpox, camelpox and taterapox of wild gerbils in Benin.

— International Committee on Virus Taxonomy


Monkeypox is caused by Monkeypox virus, which belongs to the orthopoxvirus group of viruses.

People get monkeypox by handling infected animals, through contact with their blood, bodily fluids, or the lesions the virus causes.

In Africa, there have been occasional reports of people catching it from eating bushmeat such as squirrels and rodents.

Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox is possible but limited.

There is no evidence to date that human-to-human transmission alone can sustain monkeypox infections in the human population.

— Leo Yee Sin, Executive Director, MOH, NCID.


The incubation period of monkeypox is between 5 and 21 days. It begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills, and exhaustion.

Skin abnormalities first appear in the face area. Rashes develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body.

They change and go through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell.

Although monkeypox is much milder than smallpox, it can be fatal, according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms of monkeypox include fever and skin abnormalities that first appear in the face area.

— Erni Juwita Nelwan, Universitas Indonesia.
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source


Currently there is no specific treatment for monkeypox. The disease is generally self-limited; resolution occurs in 2-4 weeks.

Patients often feel miserable during the febrile stage of the illness; therefore, rest and supportive care will be needed.

In some cases monkeypox does cause complications leading to death. "The percentage of fatality is only 1 to 10 percent. And, most of them occur in the early age group of 9 to 15 years," said Dr. drh. Suwarno, Universitas Airlangga.

Hospitalization is recommended in severe cases. Doctors advise negative pressure room for monkeypox patients.

Infected patients must be quarantined because the skin disorder is very contagious.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source


Outbreaks can be controlled by infection prevention. Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.

Does vaccination cause disease?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


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    • srirad0675 profile imageAUTHOR

      Srikanth R 

      15 months ago

      You're most welcome.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      15 months ago

      This is a very informative article and one I found really interesting. I have never heard of monkeypox so your article was educational for me. Thank you for sharing.


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