MPX often begins as flu-like symptoms. It also appears as a distinctive rash or sores or spots that can look like pimples or blisters on the skin anywhere on the body, especially in the genital area. Spots can also be inside the rectum or butt, on fingers, or in the mouth or eyes.
Generally, the spots start as red, flat spots, and then become bumps.
Are the vaccines working, are people changing their social behavior, is the virus burning itself out—and how will we know?
Besides the reference to wildlife, the only similarity between monkeypox and chickenpox is that they're a virus. Instead, monkeypox is most similar to smallpox, which was eradicated through global vaccination efforts in 1980.
The two viruses are from the orthopoxvirus family. Monkeypox is not as transmissible or fatal as smallpox. However, some researchers worry that monkeypox could mutate and become a greater threat to humans.
The global monkeypox outbreak is giving the virus an unprecedented opportunity to adapt to humans. Will it change for the worse?
Seven patients share their stories of devastating symptoms, their frustration over finding care and their efforts to help each other when doctors and officials have failed.
The U.S. is relying on a strategy of vaccinating high-risk populations – largely gay and queer people, particularly men who have sex with men in social networks where the virus is spreading. But there are still open questions: scientists don't yet have much real-world data on how well the JYNNEOS vaccine – approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019 – stops infection and transmission.
"The name is actually a little bit of a misnomer," Rimoin says. Perhaps it should be called "rodentpox" instead.
Yes, monkeys can get monkeypox. But they aren't major carriers. Instead, the virus likely persists in squirrels or another rodent.
The eradication of smallpox in the late 1970s was one of man’s greatest achievements, the effective excision of a scourge that had haunted us throughout our history, and so it is interesting that there is an “Old World cousin” of smallpox, a mild-mannered viral relative that persists in the forests of central and western Africa, circulating among primates and rodents, producing an illness in humans striking in its similarity to its more infamous relative.
The world’s victory over smallpox has had an unfortunate consequence: monkeypox cases are surging in tropical Africa.
The disease is related to smallpox, though usually less serious, although in rare cases, it too can kill, blind or scar victims. Also, it is much less likely to jump between people, though new evidence from Africa suggests human-to-human transmission is more common than was previously thought.
Monkeypox mostly infects rodents, and jumps to humans when they eat infected animals. Exposure to smallpox, or smallpox vaccine, immunises people to monkeypox, so there were fears that the virus might establish itself in people after smallpox was eliminated and vaccination stopped.
Monkeypox is rare, especially outside of Africa. Here’s what you need to know about the virus, how it is spread, and how that spread can be stopped.
The vaccinal eradication of smallpox was a watershed achievement. But with the cessation of regular vaccinations, infection rates from a related poxvirus are increasing in central Africa.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Monkeypox is a rare viral transmitted to a human from interactions with animals, and shows similar human symptoms to smallpox patients but less severe.
To save people from a deadly smallpox-like virus that appears on the United States bioterrorism list and once spread from the African bush to the American Midwest, Dr. Anne Laudisoit spends much of her time scaling tall trees in Congolese forests to spy on squirrels.
The 38-year-old biologist also dissects deceased rats, bats and antelopes, and meets people covered in pustulous rashes ― all in the hope of tracing the main animal culprits spreading monkeypox, a painful and contagious virus that has no vaccine and is not well understood.
A guide to finding the medical care you may need during the current outbreak.
The outbreak may be over before we know it; or it might become a modest, intermittent problem; or it could transform into an ever-present risk and inconvenience, like the next genital herpes. Here are three possible paths monkeypox could take.
I know what you’re thinking. Just what we needed; another global pandemic right on the heels of Covid-19.
When the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency over the weekend, it also warned of another threat to society:
"Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus," said WHO Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Monkeypox has symptoms similar to but milder than smallpox, which was declared eradicated in 1980. In addition to flu-like symptoms, infection triggers a distinctive rash. Many conditions can cause rashes but the monkeypox rash has some unusual features, notably the fact that vesicles can form on the palms of the hands.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that new genetic sequencing data indicate there are at least two distinct monkeypox outbreaks underway outside Africa — a surprise finding that one official said suggests international spread is wider, and has been occurring for longer than has been previously realized.
"You don't have head-to-toe skin pox lesions," Vinh says. "Instead it's localized to just one region of the body, like the genital regions. And some people have just one or two pox. So it's not numerous."
"Sometimes it's not even a pox," he says, "but rather an ulcer or a crater."
It is not what you're seeing on the Google pictures of monkeypox. And so this is a bit concerning because if you have subtle lesions - skin lesions - and they're contagious, you can see how this may lead to more propagation that can be missed.
"The overall risk of monkeypox to the general population remains low," Titanji emphasizes. And that's because "most spread is going to occur due to intimate contact," says Malani. "Thankfully, the risk of serious complications is low in most people."
Our country’s response to monkeypox has been plagued by the same shortcomings we had with Covid-19. Now if monkeypox gains a permanent foothold in the United States and becomes an endemic virus that joins our circulating repertoire of pathogens, it will be one of the worst public health failures in modern times not only because of the pain and peril of the disease but also because it was so avoidable.
Hundreds of cases and chatter about vaccines has sent conspiracy theorists into a full-on meltdown.
While eradicating smallpox represents one of the crowning achievements in global public health work, few could have seen that it would lead to the emergence of a new virus.
There are two forms of monkeypox, a milder west African strain and a more severe central African, or Congo strain. It is thought the recently diagnosed individuals have the west African strain.
The country has a stockpile, but there are not enough vaccines for everyone
A New Yorker describes his harrowing ordeal to receive care through a system underequipped to handle another pandemic.
Infectious disease specialists are growing increasingly concerned by the U.S. strategy for testing for monkeypox, warning that it’s creating a bottleneck and squandering the limited time the country may have to get the outbreak under control.
Will splitting monkeypox vaccines in five work out?
A new epidemic, same old mistakes
Favored shot is a seemingly safer smallpox vaccine, but efficacy remains unclear.
Yet despite growing criticism of the name, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses told NPR that even if the name is changed in the next year or two, the term "monkey" will likely still be part of any revamped name. While WHO names diseases, the ICTV determines the formal names of viruses.
Monkeypox, as the name suggests, was first found in laboratory monkeys in the late 1950s. However, scientists aren’t sure if monkeys are the main animal reservoirs (carriers of the virus), so the name may be a bit of a misnomer. The latest thinking is that the main reservoir is probably smaller animals, such as rodents.
An antiviral called tecovirimat (TPOXX) can be used in people who are at risk of getting severely sick from monkeypox, according to the CDC. This treatment isn't approved specifically for monkeypox (it's meant for treating smallpox) and access to it has been restricted with paperwork and strict ordering instructions. However, the CDC recently loosened restrictions around the drug.
You may not wake up every morning and say, “I hope I don’t get monkeypox or smallpox.” In fact, right now, the risk of you getting smallpox or monkeypox may seem lower than the risk of getting smothered by cabbage. Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) approval of the Jynneos Smallpox and Monkeypox Vaccine is significant in various ways. Bavarian Nordic will be manufacturing the vaccine.
Smallpox vaccinations seem to help prevent monkeypox. Yet they've rarely been given since smallpox was eradicated.
In general, experts say most people don’t need to worry about monkeypox. “The threat of monkeypox from this outbreak is low to the general public
Scientists denounce "anti-science, ignorance, prejudice" in how monkeypox is being described as a "gay" disease.
In this unprecedented outbreak — which is offering many global clinicians their first real-world experience with this disease — there's a clear range in severity, from classic full-body rashes requiring hospital stays and pain medication, all the way to instances where monkeypox presents as a mild infection that may be easy to miss or easy to confuse with other conditions.
Scientists are trying to understand why the virus, a less-lethal relative of smallpox, has cropped up in so many populations around the world.
Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus, a family that includes the now eradicated smallpox virus; vaccines and drugs developed to ward off or treat smallpox are expected to offer some protection against monkeypox. Monkeypox triggers milder illness than smallpox did — the latter was fatal in about 30% of cases.
Since cases of monkeypox began to emerge in Europe, beliefs about the virus have been shared widely on social media that appear to be recycled from the Covid-19 pandemic.
We're here to debunk a few of those myths — and to explain some recent data about this outbreak, which starts to paint a clearer picture of who urgently needs the vaccine right now and who doesn't.
Monkeypox can be a nasty illness, which causes a fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes and eventually "pox" or painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet. One version of monkeypox is quite deadly and kills up to 10% of people infected. The version currently in England is more mild. Its fatality rate is less than 1%. A case generally resolves in 2 to 4 weeks.
Typically, monkeypox outbreaks occur in Africa when the virus spills over from animal species—most commonly rodents, not monkeys—that regularly infect each other and act as reservoirs for the pathogen. But no links to animals have been found in cases of the current outbreak, and the first patients surfaced in Europe, where increasing evidence suggests the virus may have been transmitting between humans undetected for many months.
From vaccines to testing, targeted health messaging will help us protect as many as people from the virus as possible.
Even as cases rise, genetic analysis suggests that the virus has been silently circulating in people since 2018.
A new viral outbreak is testing whether the world has learned anything from COVID.
US testing capacity has ramped up, but the process is ponderous, and not everyone who needs a test is getting one.
As the world confronts monkeypox, we must not make similar mistakes in disease surveillance and public communication. While monkeypox and the coronavirus are not the same, there are lessons to be learned from Covid-19 and prior pandemics: We cannot stop transmission of a disease we can’t see, and we can’t help people if we don’t let them know what they’re up against.
This disease is very contagious and we have yet to find a cure. But the good news is the body can in most cases heal itself from the virus.
Monkeypox is a virus that causes skin redness and vesicles, small sacs filled with fluid, which turn into crusts.
First discovered in 1958, this virus infected a group of monkeys that were the subject of research in Cameroon. The vector was African rodents such as mice. At first, this virus was known only in Central and West Africa
Five years ago, monkeypox made a leap—and most of the world ignored it.
Several factors can determine your risk of getting monkeypox, whether from caring for someone who is ill to attending packed parties or simply having sex.
Researchers said better surveillance is needed to learn whether the virus is endemic but undetected in other nearby countries.
Older people who received smallpox vaccinations may yet have some immunity, researchers say. Healthy children and adults generally do not become severely ill.
Others bemoan the fact that the world allowed itself to get in this position in the first place. It’s been clear for the past few years that monkeypox transmission has changed — and not for the better — in Nigeria, one of the countries where the virus lives in rodents and small animals. There have been more cases, and a number of exported cases have landed in the U.K., the U.S., Israel, and Singapore. It was only a matter of time.
Thanks to public health and a little luck, this disease didn’t become a pandemic.
The infection can be contracted from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals like monkeys, Gambian giant rats, squirrels, and rodents. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name ‘monkeypox.’ The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. Since then monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.
Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although less severe. Smallpox was eradicated in 1980.However, monkeypox still occurs sporadically in some parts of Africa.