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Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by monkeypox virus infection. The monkeypox virus belongs to the same virus family as the variola virus, which causes smallpox. The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, but they are milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 after two outbreaks of a pox-like disease in research colonies of monkeys. Despite the name "monkeypox," the disease's origins are unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (such as monkeys) may carry the virus and infect humans.

In 1970, the first human case of monkeypox was reported. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in several countries in Central and Western Africa. Previously, almost all cases of monkeypox in people outside of Africa were attributed to international travel to countries where the disease was common or to imported animals. These incidents occurred on several continents.

Spread of Monkeypox

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including: Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox. Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.

Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches and backache

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Chills

  • Exhaustion

  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

  • A rash

It also causes swelling of the lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), which smallpox does not.

The incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7-14 days, but it can range between 5 and 21 days. A rash that begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body usually appears within a day to three days of the onset of fever. The skin eruption stage can last 2 to 4 weeks, during which time the lesions harden and become painful, fill up with clear fluid and then pus, and develop scabs or crusts.

According to the WHO, the proportion of patients who died has ranged between 0% and 11% in documented cases, with the proportion being higher among young children.

According to CDC,There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.

Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

There is currently no safe and effective treatment for monkeypox. Depending on the symptoms, the WHO recommends supportive treatment. Awareness is critical for infection prevention and control.


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