Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that is usually transmitted from animals to humans. It is caused by monkeypox virus. It was first identified in 1958 in Denmark when a pox-like disease was discovered among monkeys. Monkeypox was first discovered among humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is endemic in Congo. Between August and October 2016, there was an outbreak in the Central African Republic where there were 26 cases with 2 deaths. There is currently an outbreak in the southern part of Nigeria presently affecting Akwa-Ibom and Bayelsa states.

Monkeypox occurs majorly in Central and Western Africa near tropical rain forests. Some cases were however detected in the United States of America in 2003. Most of these patients had close contact with pet prairie dogs.

It is transmitted from wild animals to humans via;

  • Blood
  • Body fluids
  • Cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals

Animals that can readily transmit the virus include;

  • Monkeys
  • Gambian giants rats
  • Squirrels
  • Striped mice
  • dormice

It can also be transmitted from humans to humans via;

  • Infected respiratory tract secretions (prolonged face to face contact)
  • Skin lesions
  • Objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion
  • Mother to child via placenta
  • Sharing of utensils with infected patients

Another major risk factor is consumption of improperly cooked meat of infected animals.


The interval from infection to onset of symptoms (incubation period) is 6-16 days (range; 5-21 days).

The symptoms are similar to that of smallpox and chicken pox. However, smallpox was eradicated in 1980.

The signs and symptoms include;

  • Fever
  • Intense headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling of lymph nodes(which can occur before the onset of the rash)
  • Skin eruption (occurs 1-3 days after the appearance of fever); the rash usually begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. The rash begins as small lesions that become blisters and eventually get filled with pus.
  • The face, palm and soles of the feet are the most affected parts. The oral membrane can be affected by the rash, hence causing difficulty in drinking and swallowing. It might take between ten days to three weeks for the lesions (rash) to resolve.

Monkeypox virus is usually a self-limiting disease with symptoms lasting 14-21 days. The disease is more severe in children. The severity is also associated with the extent of viral exposure, patient’s health status and severity of complication.



There is currently no treatment or vaccine available for the disease. As a result, doctors manage the symptoms symptomatically. Furthermore, The case fatality ratio is between 1-10%


  • Avoid close contact with infected persons during an outbreak.
  • Gloves and protective clothing should be worn when handling sick animals and humans.
  • Properly cook all animal products before eating.
  • Regular hand washing
  • A potentially infected animal should be quarantined for 30 days.

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