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.
The first case of monkeypox in humans was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
" ... 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.
In 2003, an outbreak of monkeypox was recorded in the USA. All the cases had had close contact with pet prairie dogs that were infected by imported African rodents; all the cases made a full recovery.
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 was rebranded 'mpox' by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in November 2022.
WHO said it had received complaints that the name monkeypox was racist and stigmatising.
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.
The disease spreads rapidly among gay and bisexual men who often present with rashes in the genital and anal area that doctors may confuse with herpes or syphilis.
Infact the MPXV outbreak in 2022 was primarily confined to gay, bisexual, and other men who had se* with men in non-endemic nations without a travel history to endemic areas.
Mpox Virus Can Linger for Several Days
In August 2022, a research study on monkeypox by the United States disease control body CDC suggested that the virus can linger on many common household objects (like computer mouse and coffee machine) for several days despite regular disinfecting.
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.
Mpox is Milder than Smallpox
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.
"The mortality rate can be as high as 11 percent in individuals who did not have a prior smallpox vaccination," said Faisal Minhaj, PharmD, a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Officer in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
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.
While health experts agree on that the risk of monkeypox is low, there are precautions that will help reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
Avoid contact with animals that could harbour the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs). Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that have been in contact with a sick animal
Outbreaks can be controlled by infection prevention. Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Monkeypox is a _______ infection.
- One can get monkeypox _____
- through contact with lesions caused by the virus
- through contact with infected being's blood
- by handling infected animals
- all the above
- Which among these is a symptom of monkeypox?
- all the above
- Is there a specific treatment of monkeypox?
- Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.
- all the above
- all the above
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
Srikanth R (author) on June 04, 2019:
You're most welcome.
Lorna Lamon on June 04, 2019:
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.