Monkey Pox Facts, Risk Factors, Vaccines, and Treatments

monkeypox virus

Table of Contents

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a disease resulting from exposure to the monkeypox virus. According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) researchers, monkeypox is a viral zoonotic infection – a bacterial, parasitic, or viral pathogen that spreads from animals to humans. Monkeypox can also spread from humans to other humans and from the environment to humans, according to the CDC.

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How Contagious is Monkeypox?

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, monkeypox spreads in networks of people with large numbers of sexual partners. The growing scientific consensus is that the risk for the broader population is very low

When was Monkeypox Discovered?

Monkeypox was initially discovered in 1958 among a colony of research monkeys in a facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. Researchers named the condition “monkeypox” but could not identify the disease’s source. 

The first human case was identified in 1970. Other cases were reported in several central and western African countries, and patient infection outside those regions was connected to imported animals and international travel.

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Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms

Monkeypox causes various symptoms and signs, from less severe symptoms to serious illness requiring medical care in a facility. 

Common signs of monkeypox include:

  • Back Pain
  • Low Energy
  • Muscle Aches
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

Monkeypox symptoms may be accompanied or succeeded by the development of a rash that can last for two to three weeks. Typical rash locations include the face, mouth, throat, eyes, groin, genital and/or anal regions, soles of feet, and palms of the hands. 

Sores caused by the monkeypox virus typically start as flat lesions and then fill with liquid. Following this stage, they form a crust, dry up, and wither away while new skin develops underneath. The number of sores varies widely and can range from a single location to several thousand.

Symptoms go away for most patients as their bodies fight the infection, however some require monkeypox treatment. World Health Organization (WHO) researchers believe that individuals can spread the disease when sores are present and can infect others until the skin has completely recovered. 

Monkeypox vs. Smallpox

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by the Variola virus and was identified by a fever and progressive skin rash. According to the WHO, the last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977, and the disease was eradicated in 1980. 

In contrast, monkeypox has similar but milder symptoms compared to smallpox. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell while smallpox does not. The Center for Disease Control states that smallpox vaccines may prevent monkeypox with an effectiveness rate of 85%.

How is Monkeypox Transmitted?

Monkeypox is widely considered to be a low-risk disease that is not contagious. However, according to the WHO, monkeypox can spread between humans through personal contact when one individual exhibits a monkeypox rash. Forms of contact that can transmit the virus include face-to-face contact, including talking, singing, or breathing, and sexual activity between same-sex partners. Researchers at the WHO also believe that the virus can contaminate environments, such as towels, objects, electronics, clothing, and bedding.

Some studies that attempt to validate these claims include a sample collection from 12 patients in Barcelona. Another report documenting infection examined 528 infections across 16 countries, where 98% of the infected people were gay or bisexual men.

How to Prevent or Avoid Monkeypox

Monkeypox spreads predominantly among men who have sex with men, making this activity a primary risk factor. One documented case of animal-to-human transmission occurred between two homosexual men and a dog. An anal ulceration found on the dog suggests that contact with animals may be another risk factor.

Monkeypox Vaccine

The CDC recommends the JYNNEOS vaccine to protect against monkeypox and additional treatment via the antiviral drug tecovirimat (TPOXX).

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Monkeypox FAQ

Monkeypox was first identified in a colony of research monkeys in 1958 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The first human case was reported in 1970. Since then, monkeypox cases have been reported in several central and western African countries.

Monkeypox spreads predominantly between men who have sex with men through personal contact with an infected person exhibiting a rash. Forms of contact include skin-to-skin, face-to-face, and sexual activity.

According to Nature Magazine, 57,000 people were confirmed to have had monkeypox infections since the start of the alleged outbreak. Of those 57,000 cases, 22 have died, representing an approximate 0.04% death rate.