Monkeypox disease is caused by the monkeypox virus. It is a viral zoonotic disease, which means it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread between people. The disease is called monkeypox because it was first identified in colonies of monkeys kept for research in 1958. It was only later detected in humans in 1970.
Symptoms of monkeypox
General symptoms of monkeypox typically include a fever, intense headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever. Lesions can be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off. The number of lesions on one person can range from a few to several thousand. The rash tends to be concentrated on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They can also be found on the mouth, genitals and eyes.
Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment. If you think you have symptoms that could be monkeypox, seek advice from your health care provider. Let them know if you have had close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed monkeypox.
Can children get monkeypox?
Children are typically more prone to have severe symptoms than adolescents and adults. The virus can also be passed to a foetus or to a new born through birth or early physical contact.
Is there a treatment for monkeypox?
Monkeypox symptoms often resolve on their own without the need for treatment. It is important to take care of the rash by letting it dry if possible or covering with a moist dressing to protect the area if needed. Avoid touching any sores in the mouth or eyes. Mouth rinses and eye drops can be used as long as cortisone-containing products are avoided. Vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) may be recommended for severe cases. An antiviral that was developed to treat smallpox (tecovirimat, commercialized as TPOXX) was also approved for the treatment of monkeypox in January 2022.