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What Is Monkeypox? Everything You Need To Know

William Ralph is a mental health and wellness expert with several years of experience in mental health research and awareness programs.


Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus that is characterized by a widespread rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Most noticeable is that the rash leads to lesions on the face, chest, hands, and feet, on or near the genitals or anus. Monkeypox can be transmitted from human to human, animal to human, and vice versa.

There are two different types of the monkeypox virus, the Congo Basin virus, and the West African virus.

From 1970 to 2022, most cases of the monkeypox virus mainly occurred in central and western Africa. However, as of August 2022, outbreaks of the monkeypox virus have been reported in more than 90 other countries where the virus doesn’t usually occur, with about 39,434 cases worldwide so far.

On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

What causes monkeypox?

First identified by scientists in 1958, Monkeypox is caused by a strain of the Orthopoxvirus genus virus, which includes the virus that also causes smallpox. The condition is called monkeypox due to two outbreaks of disease among monkeys used for research.

The first known human case of monkeypox happened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

Monkeypox symptoms

The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to smallpox symptoms, although it has been noted to be typically milder because it takes about 6 to 13 days for symptoms to appear or even 5 to 21 days in some cases.

The early symptoms usually include:

  • Fever, commonly the first symptom
  • chills
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • Lymphadenopathy – swollen lymph nodes.

After the fever develops, a rash would usually appears within 1 to 3 days, and it affects your:

  • face, the most common area of the body
  • mouth
  • genitalia
  • palms
  • soles of your feet
  • eyes, including the conjunctivae and cornea

Although a rash may develop before or after the fever, some people only experience a rash, the lesion causing rash evolves as follows;

  • Macules – flat discolored lesions
  • Papules – slightly raised lesions
  • Vesicles – bumps with clear fluid
  • Pustules – bumps with yellowish fluid
  • scabs
  • the scab falls off after the lesion dries up

The monkeypox symptoms generally last 2 to 4 weeks and usually go away without treatment.

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Possible Potential complications from having monkeypox

Possible complications that may arise from having monkeypox include:

  • sepsis
  • encephalitis – inflammation of brain tissue
  • Bronchopneumonia
  • infection of the cornea which may lead to vision loss

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox can be transmitted from human to human, animal to human, and vice versa. It is spread through direct contact with the virus and this is possible through contact with the following contaminated substances:

  • bodily fluids
  • blood
  • respiratory droplets in human-to-human contact
  • skin or mucous lesions
  • contact with contaminated surfaces, objects, and fabrics
  • bites and scratches from animals with monkeypox
  • eating the meat of an animal with monkeypox

The virus can be passed through the placenta, by pregnant people to their fetus

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can spread through intimate contacts such as:

  • Kissing, hugging, and massaging,
  • touching the genitals or anus of a person with the monkeypox virus
  • oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse
  • prolonged face-to-face contact

Is monkeypox deadly?

According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus is rarely fatal. Approximately 99% of people who get the West African version of the virus survives. This is the strain that has been identified as being responsible for the current outbreak. However, certain classes of people may be susceptible to severe illness and complications from the virus, these people include:

  • children under the age of 8 years
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding people
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • individuals with a history of eczema

Unlike the West African strain of the virus, however, the Congo Basin strain of the monkeypox virus has been noted to be more severe with around a 10% fatality rate.

How is monkeypox treated?

Currently, there is no known certain treatment for monkeypox. However, the virus has been found to be self-limiting and gets better without treatment.

Although, some smallpox vaccines and antiviral medications used to treat smallpox have been found to help curb the disease from spreading and control outbreaks.

Can vaccination prevent monkeypox?

According to the WHO and CDC, the smallpox vaccine is approximately 85% effective in preventing the development of monkeypox and they recommend vaccination for people exposed or at risk of contracting the virus.

In Conclusion

You should get vaccinated if you are at risk of contracting the virus. Also, wash your hand frequently and avoid contact with others who have been diagnosed or suspected of contracting the virus.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 William Ralph

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