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MonkeyPox: The Rare Deadly Disease Spreading Across Countries

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox. It primarily occurs in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa. The virus that causes monkeypox in humans and other animals is a kind of double-stranded DNA virus.

Orthopoxvirus is classified as a member of the family Poxviridae, genus Orthopoxvirus. The monkeypox virus, along with variola, cowpox, and vaccinia viruses, belongs to the family of orthopoxviruses.


The name monkeypox originated from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.


A typical MPXV particle is a 200–250 nm brick with surface tubules and a dumbbell-shaped core component.

How did the first person get monkeypox?

In humans, the disease remained confined to the rain forests of Western and Central Africa until 2003, when an outbreak of monkeypox occurred in the US. All cases were traced to sick rodents imported from Ghana. Local prairie dogs caught the infection and passed it on to their owners.


Besides monkeys, the virus has been detected in Gambian pouched rats (Cricetomys gambianus), dormice (Graphiurus spp.), and African squirrels (Heliosciurus, and Funisciurus). Consumption of infected animals is a possible human reservoir.

Monkeypox does not appear to have a single source of infection. The name may be misleading because monkeys are not a major source. It is speculated that the aforementioned rodents in Africa are the true reservoir.


In humans, the symptoms are similar but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. The illness begins with fever, headache, chills, muscle ache, backache, asthenia and swollen lymph nodes.


The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. Its symptoms usually last for 2 to 4 weeks, except for severe cases.


Animal-to-human transmission can occur from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals, eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals.

Human-to-human transmission can result from close contact with respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or recently contaminated objects such as bedding.


Monkeypox is usually self-limiting but may be severe in some individuals, such as children, pregnant women or persons with immune suppression due to other health conditions.


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

Newer vaccines have been developed of which one has been approved for the prevention of monkeypox.


There are several methods of prevention :

  1. Avoid unprotected contact with wild animals including their meat or blood.

  2. Thoroughly cook all kinds of meat before consumption.

  3. Avoid contact with objects like the bedding of the infected person or person in contact with a sick animal.

  4. Practice good hygiene care.

  5. Spread awareness of the risk factors and educate people about the preventive measures.

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