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Internal Medicine

What is Monkeypox?

How is it spread? How dangerous is it?

What is Monkeypox?

This article provides official CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) information on Monkeypox.

Monkeypox is a viral disease of animals and humans that causes symptoms very similar to those of the well-known smallpox, although less severe.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in research monkey colonies, hence the name "monkeypox".

In 1970, the first human case was detected in the Congo, since then, Monkeypox has been reported in humans in Central and West Africa.

How is Monkeypox transmission?

This virus can be transmitted to humans through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, bush meat preparation from infected animals, or through direct contact with body fluids or an eruption from someone with the virus.

Another way of transmission is through close or prolonged contact with someone already infected, from being close to that person, or touching their contaminated clothing or bedding.

The virus enters the body through a break in the skin (even if it is not visible), and through the eyes, nose or mouth.

It is also being studied that possibly person-to-person transmission could occur mainly through large saliva droplets.

What are the symptoms of Monkeypox?

The first symptoms appear after approximately 2 weeks of infection and are:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • General body discomfort

  • Muscle pain

  • Intense fatigue

  • Swollen lymph nodes

Days later, it is when the rash or pustules appears on the face and body, as we have seen in several images.

This illness lasts approximately 2-4 weeks. In the days after, that pustules turns into scabs that will eventually fall off.


To prevent transmission, the ideal is to isolate the patient and maintain super strict hygiene around the infected person, also:

  • Avoid contact with animals that can contract the virus

  • Avoid contact with any material (clothes, sheets, quilts, etc.) that have been in contact with someone who is sick

  • Wash your hands constantly and use hand sanitizer

  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for an infected person

The vaccine, which we already know about Smallpox, also provides some protection against Monkeypox, we will need to be aware of the information that the WHO or the health institutions of each country will provide us with in the coming weeks.

Is there any treatment?

There is still no safe and proven treatment for Monkeypox virus infection.

Research is being done on a possible vaccine. Make sure you are informed about all the recommendations and measures established.

How dangerous is Monkeypox?

Like all viruses, it is dangerous when it is not treated in time or when it spreads out of control. If you need help, ask an Internal Medicine Doctor for advice and support, timely care will make a difference.

Image: © Maurizio de Angelis/Science photo library

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