The things you need to know about monkeypox virus especially with the recent outbreaks.

Monkeypox is a viral illness caused by infection with monkeypox virus which belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. It with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe


It was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’ The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.

Evidence of monkeypox virus infection has been found in many animals including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, different species of monkeys and others

About monkeypox virus


It has been reported in people in several central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone.

Read about the recent monkeypox outbreak here

Monkeypox cases in people have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals. These cases were seen in the United States, Israel, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.


Monkeypox is a zoonosis which means a disease transmitted to humans from animals. It spreads through close contact.

People who closely interact with someone who is infectious are at greater risk for infection: this includes health workers, household members and sexual partners.


Usually, incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) of monkeypox is 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.

The infection can be divided into two periods:
– the invasion period (lasts between 0-5 days) characterized by fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches) and intense asthenia (lack of energy).

– the skin eruption usually begins within 1-3 days of appearance of fever. The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk.

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.

Things to know about monkey pox virus

More on the thing you need to know about monkey pox


In diagnosis of monkeypox, there are other similar rash-like illnesses that would have to be rule out. They include chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis, and medication-associated allergies.

Read about antibiotic resistance here

The lymphadenopathy during the prodromal stage of illness can be a clinical feature to distinguish monkeypox from chickenpox or smallpox.

For a suspected case of monkeypox, the health worker will collect an appropriate sample and have it transported safely to an appropriate laboratory in accordance with national and international requirements. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the preferred laboratory test as it has a good accuracy and sensitivity.


Although blood PCR test can be used, they are usually inconclusive. The optimal diagnostic samples for monkeypox are from skin lesions – the roof or fluid from vesicles and pustules, and dry crusts. Where feasible, biopsy is an option.


The management of monkeypox is targeted towards alleviation of symptoms, management of complications and prevention long-term sequelae.

Patient should be offered fluids and food to maintain adequate nutritional status. Secondary bacterial infections should be treated as indicated.

An antiviral agent known as tecovirimat that was developed for smallpox was licensed by the European Medical Association (EMA) for monkeypox in 2022 based on data in animal and human studies. Although its availability is limited, however when used, it should be under close monitoring.


Vaccination against smallpox was demonstrated through several observational studies to be about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

A newer vaccine based on a modified attenuated vaccinia virus (Ankara strain) was approved for the prevention of monkeypox in 2019. This is a two-dose vaccine but with limited availability


– Raising awareness of risk factors and educating people about the measures they can take to reduce exposure to the virus is the main prevention strategy for monkeypox.

– Surveillance and rapid identification of new cases is critical for outbreak containment.

– Samples taken from people and animals with suspected monkeypox virus infection should be handled by trained staff working in suitably equipped laboratories.

– Unprotected contact with wild animals, especially those that are sick or dead, including their meat, blood and other parts must be avoided

– Captive animals that are potentially infected with monkeypox should be isolated from other animals and placed into immediate quarantine.

These are the things you need to know about monkeypox

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