Mpox (monkeypox) is a viral disease similar to smallpox. It causes fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a lesion-like rash. The lesions can appear on or near your genitals or anus and in other areas.
Mpox is also a zoonotic disease. This means it can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. It can also be transmitted from one human to another.
Before 2022, most cases of mpox occurred in central and western Africa. However, cases of mpox caused by the West African form of the virus have been reported in
Read on to learn about the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of mpox. This article will also explain how mpox spreads and how it can be treated.
Word Health Organization (WHO)changed the name “monkeypox” to mpox in November 2022 to reduce the risk of stigmatization and other issues. Where possible, this article has been updated to reflect this change.
Scientists first identified the disease in
The first case of mpox in a human happened in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The symptoms of mpox are similar to those of smallpox. Mpox symptoms are typically milder.
After you contract the mpox virus, it typically takes
The early symptoms can include:
- fever, which is commonly the first symptom
- muscle aches
- back ache
- swollen lymph nodes, also known as lymphadenopathy
After the fever develops, a rash usually appears 1 to 3 days later. The rash typically
- face, which is the most common site
- palms of your hands
- soles of your feet
- eyes, including the conjunctivae and cornea
A rash may come before or after fever and other flu-like symptoms. Some people may only experience a rash.
The rash associated with mpox consists of lesions that evolve in the following order:
- macules, or flat discolored lesions
- papules, or slightly raised lesions
- vesicles, or bumps with clear fluid
- pustules, or bumps with yellowish fluid
After the lesions dry and scab over, they fall off.
The symptoms of mpox generally last
Here’s what the condition looks like in humans:
Possible complications of mpox include:
- inflammation of brain tissue, also known as encephalitis
- infection of the cornea, the clear outer layer of your eye
- secondary infections
An infection in the cornea may lead to vision loss.
In severe cases, the lesions might merge together. This may cause the loss of a large area of skin.
In the past, the mpox virus was mainly active in tropical, rural parts of central and western Africa.
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Republic of the Congo
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
Historically, most reported cases of mpox are from rural areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
However, as of August 2022, cases of mpox have been reported in
Additionally, on July 23, 2022, the
Mypox spreads through direct contact with the mpox virus through the following substances:
- bodily fluids
- skin or mucous lesions
- respiratory droplets, for human-to-human contact
It can also spread through contact with objects, fabrics, or surfaces that contain the mpox virus.
People who are pregnant can also pass the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
According to the
- hugging, massaging, or kissing
- oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse
- touching the genitals or anus of a person with the mpox virus
- prolonged face-to-face contact
- touching objects during sex that contain the mpox virus, such as bedding, towels, or sex toys
Transmission can also happen through:
- bites and scratches from animals with a mpox infection
- eating the meat of an animal with a mpox infection
Scientists are still researching whether monkeypox can be spread by a person who has no symptoms, how it spreads through respiratory secretions, and whether or not it can be spread by contact with other bodily fluids, including vaginal fluids, semen, urine, or feces.
According to the CDC, mpox is rarely fatal. In fact,
Certain people may be more susceptible to severe illness and complications, including:
- people with weakened immune systems
- children under 8 years old
- people who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- individuals with a history of eczema
People who experience secondary bacterial infections tend to have worse outcomes.
Compared with the West African form of the virus, the Congo Basin form of mpox is usually more severe, It has a fatality rate of
Before 2022, most confirmed cases of mpox in the United States
However, since May 2022, multiple cases have been identified in countries around the globe where mpox doesn’t usually occur.
As of August 17, 2022,
- New York
On August 4, 2022, mpox was declared a public health emergency in the United States.
There’s currently no treatment for mpox. However, monkeypox is self-limiting, which means it can get better without treatment.
Some medications can be used to control an outbreak and prevent the disease from spreading. They can include:
- vaccinia vaccine (smallpox vaccine)
- vaccinia immune globulin
- antiviral medication (in animals)
- tecovirimat (TPOXX), an antiviral used to treat smallpox
- brincidofovir (Tembexa), an antiviral used to treat adult and pediatric smallpox
- cidofovir, which is typically used to treat eye infections caused by cytomegalovirus but has been used in certain mpox cases
According to the WHO, the smallpox vaccine is approximately
There are two vaccines available that
This includes people who:
- have been identified by public health officials as a close contact of a person with mpox
- have had a sexual partner within the past 2 weeks who’s been diagnosed with mpox
- have had multiple sexual partners within the past 2 weeks in an area where mpox cases have been reported
- who have a job that exposes them to orthopoxviruses, including mpox
In addition to getting vaccinated, the CDC also
If you’ve had close contact with someone who has gotten mpox, the
- Lab tests: This involves testing the fluid from lesions or dry scabs. These samples can be checked for the virus using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
- Biopsy: A biopsy involves removing a piece of skin tissue and testing it for the virus.
Blood tests aren’t usually recommended. That’s because the mpox virus stays in the blood for a short time. Therefore, it’s not an accurate test for diagnosing mpox.
Mpox is a viral disease and zoonotic condition, which means it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread through contact between two humans.
The first symptoms typically include fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, it causes a rash, which can appear on or near your genitals, anus, face, chest, and extremities.
The rash consists of lesions that turn into fluid-filled blisters, which then dry up and fall off. The rash typically starts on your face and then progresses, usually to your arms and legs. However, it can occur in other parts of your body as well.
Getting vaccinated if you’re at risk, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding contact with others who have monkeypox can help prevent infection.