Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus (MPV). Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting illness that presents with fever and rash. However, serious complications or death can occur in some individuals.

01 Jul 2022

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Understanding Monkeypox and Global Situation

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus.

The disease is endemic in parts of Central and West Africa, and outbreaks typically occur in populations living in rural areas who hunt, handle, and consume bushmeat. Monkeypox cases have been reported outside of Africa linked to international travel or importation of animals.

Since May 2022, there have been reports of monkeypox cases in several regions of the world (See Travel to Affected Areas below for list of countries), including some cases with no or unknown travel history to monkeypox endemic countries and occurring in men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM is not currently a known risk factor for MPV transmission. While there have been cases identified among MSM, anyone can be infected through close or direct contact. Investigations are ongoing to understand where and how the cases acquired their infections. Click here for the latest WHO update on the monkeypox situation. 

How is Monkeypox transmitted

Transmission occurs when a person comes into close contact with the virus through and infected animal, infected person or contaminated environment. Animal-to-human transmission may occur by a bite or scratch from an infected animal, bush meat preparation, or direct contact with the blood, body fluids, or skin or mucosal lesions of infected animals. Human-to-human transmission can occur via exposure to respiratory droplets or direct physical contact with the blood, body fluid or lesion material from infected individual or contaminated materials.

Symptoms of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting illness that presents with fever and rash. However, serious complications or death can occur in some individuals. The following symptoms of monkeypox are commonly experienced at the beginning of the disease:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • General feeling of exhaustion
As the disease progresses, infected persons develop a rash, often starting from the face before spreading to other parts of the body, including the palms and soles. The cutaneous lesions often first present as macules, evolving successively to papules, vesicles, pustules, crusts and scabs. Symptoms may appear from 5 to 21 days following infection (i.e. incubation period). People with the infection are generally infectious from onset of fever until the skin lesions have scabbed over.

Treatment

Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting illness, with symptoms usually resolving spontaneously within 14-21 days. There are no specific proven or safe treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection. Treatment is typically symptomatic and supportive. Vaccines and antiviral medication are also currently being developed and studied for use in the prevention and treatment for monkeypox.

Travel to affected areas

Travellers are strongly advised to maintain vigilance and take the following precautions:

  • Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing after going to the toilet, or when hands are soiled.
  • Avoid direct contact with skin lesions of infected living or dead persons or animals, as well as objects that may have become contaminated with infectious fluids, such as soiled clothing or linens (e.g. bedding or towels) used by an infected person.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals that could harbour the virus, and consumption of bush meat.
  • Returning travellers, especially from areas affected by monkeypox1, should seek immediate medical attention if they develop any disease symptoms (e.g. sudden onset of high fever, swollen lymph nodes and rash) within three weeks of their return. They should inform their doctor of their recent travel history.
  • Given the evolving global situation, to keep updated with health issues that impact travellers’ health including disease outbreaks and travel risk at travel destination.
1As of 22 June 2022, countries where cases of monkeypox have been reported: Argentina , Australia , Austria , Belgium , Benin , Brazil , Cameroon , Canada , Central African Republic , Chile , Congo , Czechia , Democratic Republic of the Congo , Denmark , Finland , France , Georgia , Germany , Ghana , Gibraltar , Greece , Hungary , Iceland , Ireland , Israel , Italy , Latvia , Lebanon , Luxembourg , Malta , Mexico , Morocco , Netherlands , Nigeria , Norway , Poland , Portugal , Republic of Korea , Romania , Serbia , Singapore , Slovenia , Spain , Sweden , Switzerland , The United Kingdom , United Arab Emirates , United States of America and Venezuela.

Countries where monkeypox is more commonly found: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’ Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, South Sudan.

Click here for the latest WHO update on the monkeypox situation.
For Frequently Asked Questions on Monkeypox, click here.