Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus that also includes the variola virus (which causes smallpox).

It is called monkeypox because it was first discovered when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research in 1958. The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries, however, the majority of infections are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Monkeypox does not spread easily between people. Transmission of monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin, respiratory tract, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). animal-to-human transmission may occur by bite or scratch, bush meat preparation, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding. Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required. Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens. The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor.


In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. Within 1 to 3 days after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, usually starting on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.


Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection. Treatment is mainly symptomatic and supportive, including prevention and treatment of secondary bacterial infections.


The following are preventive measures to take to prevent infection with the monkeypox virus:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. As seen in COVID-19, you can never go wrong with practicing good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and running water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with animals that could be hosts for 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 or surfaces that have been in contact with a sick animal.
  • Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox but is no longer routinely available following global smallpox eradication.
  • Prior smallpox vaccination will likely result in having a milder disease course.
  • Thoroughly cooking all animal products before eating

Culled from WHO https://www.who.int/