Monkeypox Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment


Monkeypox Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Monkeypox Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Monkeypox is a rare disease that occurs usually in remote areas in central and West Africa.

It is a rare viral disease transmitted from animals (rodents, pets, primates) to humans.

This happens as a result of a contact with the animal’s blood or a bite from the animal.

It has symptoms which are similar to that of smallpox.

Monkey pox was first identified in 1958, in Copenhagen State Serum Institute, Denmark.

It was discovered while carrying out an investigation in pox-like diseases among monkeys.

Among humans, the disease was discovered in the year 1970 in the democratic republic of Congo.

A 9 year old boy was the first human to contract this viral disease.

Ever since then majority of monkey pox cases has been reported in the rain forest regions of Congo Basin and other areas in western Africa.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were major outbreaks of the viral disease between the years 1996-1997.

Outside the African continent, cases of monkeypox were discovered in the year 2004 in the Midwest of United States of America.

Most of the people who contacted the disease were said to have had earlier contact with pet prarie dogs.

There was an outbreak of Monkey pox discovered in Sudan in the year 2005.

In Central African Republic, between the month of August and October 2016, there was a major monkeypox outbreak, 26 persons contacted the disease and two persons died from it.


How is Monkeypox transmitted?

Monkeypox can be contacted through direct contact with the blood, fluids and mucosal lesions of animals that are infected.

In Africa, there are evidences tracing infections through touching infected monkeys, rats and squirrels.

Rodents is said to be the major reservoir of the virus.

When the meat of an infected animal is not cooked properly, this viral disease can be transmitted.

There can also be a human-human transmission when there is a close contact with respiratory tract secretions that are infected and an infected person’s skin lesion.

Another way a person can contact this virus is through contact with contaminated objects by a patient’s fluid.

Members of a household usually have a greater risk of infection because the transmission of monkeypox occurs primarily through droplet respiratory particles which often require a prolonged face-to-face contact.

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Signs and symptoms of monkeypox

From the infection to the onset of symptoms is usually between 6 to 21 days. However, it can last from 5 to 21 days. There are two periods of the infection:

  • The invasion period
  • The skin eruption period

The invasion period

This is usually between 0-5 days. It is characterized by severe headache, fever, swelling of the lymph node, muscle ache, back pain and weakness.

 The skin eruption period

This begins after the appearance of fever within 1-3 days.

The rash starts from the face and spreads to different parts of the body.

The most affected areas are the face, the palms and the soles of the feet. In 10 days there is an evolution of the rash into maculopapules to vesicules, pestules and then into crusts.

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The complete disappearance of the crust can take up to three weeks.

The number of lesions actually varies in individuals; it affects mucous membranes, genitalia, the eyelid and eyeball.

In some patients, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) are noticed before the rashes.

The most distinctive feature of monkeypox disease is the rash.

This disease is more severe in children. They are more susceptible to monkeypox.

Monkeypox symptoms can last from 14 to 21 days.

People who live near the forested areas have low-level exposure to animals that are infected which can lead to subclinical infection.


Diagnosis of monkeypox

Monkeypox can be diagnosed in the laboratory. This will involve carrying out several tests to identify the virus. The following test can be carried out:

  • Antigen detection test
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
  • Virus isolation by cell culture
  • Polymerase chain reaction assay


Treatment and vaccine for monkeypox

Monkeypox disease cannot be treated, it can only be controlled.

Smallpox vaccination can be used in preventing the spread of monkeypox, however, the vaccine is no longer available to the public due to eradication of smallpox.

For the control of monkeypox virus, the following should be done:

  • Small pox vaccination should be administered in a period of two weeks of exposure to monkeypox.
  • Patients with severe life threatening symptoms should be administered an antiviral drug called cidofovir (vistide)


Species of animals that have the monkeypox virus

  • Tree Squirrels
  • Gambian rats
  • Rope squirrels
  • Dormice
  • Striped mice
  • Primates



  • Isolation of Potentially infected animals. They should be placed in quarantine.
  • Animals that might have come in contact with an infected animal should also be quarantined. Within 30 days, they should be handled carefully and observed for monkeypox symptom.
  • Surveillance measures should be implemented.
  • People should be educated about the virus in order to reduce exposure.
  • Avoid close physical contact with infected people.
  • Gloves should be worn when taking care of infected people. Other protective equipment should be used too.
  • All animal products should be cooked before eating. E.g. Meat.
  • When handling infected animals, gloves and other protective clothing should be worn.
  • Health workers should implement infection control precautions.
  • Health workers should be immunized against smallpox before treating infected patients.
  • Samples from suspected monkeypus virus infected people or animals should be handled by trained laboratory staffs
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  • The monkeypox disease occurs primarily in the remote areas of central and west Africa.
  • It is similar to smallpox.
  • Transmitted from various wild animals.
  • Human-to-human transmission is limited.
  • Monkeypox disease cannot be treated. It can only be prevented.
  • Smallpox vaccination is highly effective in preventing monkeypox.
  • Animal products, e.g. meat should be cooked thoroughly before eating.



Avoid direct contact with people or animals infected with smallpox.

Ensure you cook all animal product thoroughly before consumption.

Smallpox vaccination can help prevent the spread of monkeypox virus.

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