- Monkeypox is a rare disease that causes an infection by the monkeypox virus which is classified as an orthopoxvirus (same virus that causes smallpox).
- Transmission is not easy, so public risk is low, but there have been recent cases reported in several European countries, as well as the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
- The symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder. After the fever develops a rash will appear.
- Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with the infection, such as through blood, bodily fluids, skin or mucous lesions, or respiratory droplets.
Until recently, monkeypox was a disease that most people had never heard about. This is because it’s a rare infection that is mainly spread through wild animals in parts of west and central Africa. However, according to health officials and media reports, cases of monkeypox are surfacing in many European countries, as well as the United States, Canada, and Australia. In fact, three states in the U.S. have now declared a state of emergency.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease which means it’s transmitted from animals to humans, or human to human. Despite the growing number of cases, the risk of spread between people and the public is low. For those who do become infected, the symptoms are usually mild and most people recover within a few weeks, says the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Read on to learn more about monkeypox, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options…
What is Monkeypox?
It is a rare disease that causes an infection by the monkeypox virus. “Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae,” explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.”
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when a pox-like disease spread through a colony of monkeys, hence the name. These monkeys were kept in captivity for lab research. It is a zoonotic disease which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa, says Healthline. Unfortunately, it can also be spread from one human to another.