Symptoms and Signs of Monkeypox

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the (family Poxviridae and related to the Orthopoxvirus genus that also includes variola virus (the cause of smallpox). Signs and symptoms are similar to smallpox that begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, backaches, chills and exhaustion; then in about 1-3 days after fever starts, the patient develops a rash, usually starting on the face. During this time, lymph nodes swell – this does not happen with smallpox. As the rash spreads, lesions develop and progressively change over time from macules and papules to vesicles and pustules that eventually form scabs. The death rate in humans is about 10% in humans. Other animals can get the disease (for example, rodents).

The cause of monkeypox is infection with the monkeypox virus. The virus can be transmitted from animals-to-humans and human-to-human by the virus entering the body through skin breaks, respiratory tract or eyes, nose or mouth.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.