Monkeypox Virus Outbreak - All you need to know about this virus

Shikha Batra
Monkey-Pox Virus Disease Outbreak - Symptoms, Prevention , Read

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on May 24, 2022

Monkeypox Virus Outbreak All you need to know about this virus

There are stories coming in  lately of the outbreak of another disease with pictures of children and adults infected with another virus on most of the news channels and other social platforms. If you're wondering what the name of this newly discovered virus is: It is called ‘Monkeypox’ and it's not new. With COVID-19 on the top of our minds, this has made us all ask the same questions: Is monkeypox the next thing we should be worried about? Are we awaiting another series of lockdowns? 


Read ahead to get more information on this-


What is monkeypox and why is it called so?

The monkeypox virus is closely related to the smallpox virus. It is a rare viral disease which is called ‘monkeypox’ because researchers first detected it in laboratory monkeys in 1958 which were kept for research. The first confirmed human case was found in the year 1970, when the virus was isolated from a child suspected of having smallpox in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since the first reported human case, it has been reported in several other central and western African countries.


Key facts about monkeypox :

  • Monkeypox is a known virus rather than a new one. 

  • Monkeypox is caused by a monkeypox virus which is a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.

  • Monkeypox virus is a DNA virus so it does not mutate as rapidly as Covid or flu.

  • Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from  2 to 4 weeks.

  • It is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person’s blood, cutaneous or mucosal lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets or contaminated material such as their clothes or bedding.

  • In Africa, evidence of monkeypox virus has been found in many animals including rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, different species of monkeys and others.

  • Consumption of inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals could also be a possible risk factor.

  • Transmission of the virus can also occur via the placenta from mother to fetus leading to congenital monkeypox. 

  • The newborn can also catch the infection from the mother during and after birth due to close contact.

  • Cases outside of Africa have been associated with international travel or imported animals, including in the U.S. and elsewhere.

  • The first reported cases of monkeypox in the U.S. was in 2003. It was reported from an outbreak in Texas linked to a shipment of animals from Ghana.

  • Fortunately, compared to smallpox, monkeypox is less deadly. Compared to smallpox’s 30% mortality, between 1% and 3% of patients die from monkeypox.

  • Monkeypox is also suspected to be spreading during sexual activities with most cases having lesions on their genitals and the surrounding area.

  • Many of those affected are gay and bisexual young men.


The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox in humans. The symptoms includes:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches

  • Backache

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • A general feeling of discomfort

  • Chills 

  • Exhaustion

  • Severe rash

  • Profound weakness


The incubation period which is the time from infection to appearance of symptoms for monkeypox is usually 5-21 days. The illness typically lasts for 2-4 weeks. After the appearance of fever, i.e. within 1 to 3 days or sometimes longer, the infected person develops a rash, beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.


In contrast, reported symptoms in people who get the smallpox or monkeypox vaccine includes:

  • Mild fever

  • Tiredness

  • Swollen glands

  • Redness

  • Itching at the site of injection


Treatment of monkeypox:

There is no current proven safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection. It mainly requires focusing on transmission prevention. It is usually a self-limited disease which clears itself between 14 to 21 days and cases are usually  mild. However, it may be severe in some individuals including children, pregnant women, or persons with immunosuppression due to other health conditions. For controlling the outbreak the smallpox vaccines, antivirals and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used.


Vaccine Effectiveness:

Smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting monkeypox virus since monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox and it is reported to be at least 85% effective in preventing it as suggested by past data from Africa. The vaccines are effective at protecting people against monkeypox when given before exposure to  monkeypox. However, vaccination after a monkeypox exposure may help prevent the disease or make it less severe, according to the experts. The sooner an exposed person gets the vaccine, the better is the prognosis.


CDC recommends that the vaccine should be given within 4 days from the date of exposure in order to prevent onset of the disease. However, if it is given  between 4-14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease but may not prevent it.


Why are we talking about monkeypox virus again?

As of 21May, 13:00, 92 laboratory confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox with investigations ongoing, have been reported to WHO from 12 member states that are not endemic for monkeypox virus. No associated deaths have been reported to date.


Should India be worried about Monkeypox?

Luckily, no case has been reported in India yet. So the good news is, monkeypox turning out to be yet another outbreak like COVID-19 seems quite unlikely. In India, the Union Health Ministry has directed the National Centre for Disease Control and Indian Council of Medical Research to keep a close watch on the outbreak. The government could proceed with random screening of people arriving from the affected nations, if cases continue to increase. Researchers are still trying to understand the reasons for sudden uptick in cases.


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