Review: Monkeypox Cases, Causes And Prevention

Recently, Monkeypox cases have been recorded internationally as a result of the import of animals and international traveling.

Countries such as the United States have recorded cases of Monkeypox being spread among some of its citizens as well as Singapore, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

The natural reservoir of monkeypox remains unknown. However, African rodents and nonhuman primates such as the monkey are believed to harbor this virus.

  • What Is 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. 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 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 the Congo (DRC) during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.

Since then, monkeypox has been reported in people in several other central and western African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. The majority of infections are in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  • Signs And Symptoms

In humans, for instance, the signs and symptoms of monkeypox are milder but similar to smallpox. Monkeypox begins with headache, fever, body ache, and exhaustion. The only difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that Monkeypox causes the lymph nodes to swell whereas smallpox dies not.

The time from infection to symptoms/incubation period is normally between 7-14 days but can sometimes range from 5-21 days.

Monkeypox begins with:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

On the third day after the fever, the infected person develops a rash usually starting from the face and later spreading to other parts of the body.

Research has it that, out of every ten people who contract monkeypox in Africa, one does. The illness is believed to prevail for 2-4 weeks.

  • Transmission

Transmission of monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). Animal-to-human transmission may occur by bite or scratch, bush meat preparation, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding. Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required. Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.

The reservoir host (main disease carrier) of monkeypox is still unknown although African rodents are suspected to play a part in transmission. The virus that causes monkeypox has only been recovered (isolated) twice from an animal in nature. In the first instance (1985), the virus was recovered from an apparently ill African rodent (rope squirrel) in the Equateur Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the second (2012), the virus was recovered from a dead infant mangabey found in the Tai National Park, Cote d’Ivoire.


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  • Prevention

There are several ways in which monkeypox is prevented/ the rate at which it is spreading be reduced.

The following are some of the ways by which one can protect him/herself from being infected:

  • Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
  • Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
  • Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
  • Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.


  • Way By Which Monkeypox Cases Can Be Treated

People infected by the virus have mild or self-limiting disease courses in the absence of specific medical therapy.

However, the prognosis for monkeypox depends on multiple factors such as previous vaccination status, initial health status, concurrent illnesses, and comorbidities among others. You should considered persons for treatment following consultation with CDC if:

  • All Persons with severe disease (e.g., hemorrhagic disease, confluent lesions, sepsis, encephalitis, or other conditions requiring hospitalization)
  • Persons who may be at high risk of severe disease:
    • Persons with immunocompromise (e.g., human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome infection, leukemia, lymphoma, generalized malignancy, solid organ transplantation, therapy with alkylating agents, antimetabolites, radiation, tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, high-dose corticosteroids, being a recipient with hematopoietic stem cell transplant <24 months post-transplant or ≥24 months but with graft-versus-host disease or disease relapse, or having autoimmune disease with immunodeficiency as a clinical component)
    • Pediatric populations, particularly patients younger than 8 years of age
    • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
    • Persons with one or more complications (e.g., secondary bacterial skin infection; gastroenteritis with severe nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration; bronchopneumonia; concurrent disease or other comorbidities)
  • Persons with monkeypox virus aberrant infections that include its accidental implantation in eyes, mouth, or other anatomical areas where monkeypox virus infection might constitute a special hazard (e.g., the genitals or anus)

There is no specific treatment for treating monkeypox cases. However, antivirals developed for use by patients with smallpox can be beneficial.