Diseases Home > Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that occurs mainly in the rain forest countries of central and west Africa. The disease is caused by a virus, and although it was first seen in rodents, the virus can cause infections in humans as well. Symptoms of this condition may include fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare illness, sometimes described as a milder form of smallpox, that is caused by a virus.

Where Does It Occur?

Monkeypox occurs mainly in the rain forest countries of central and west Africa. It was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958. Blood tests of animals in Africa later found evidence of monkeypox infection in a number of African rodents. The virus that causes monkeypox was recovered from an African squirrel. Laboratory studies showed that the virus could also infect mice, rats, and rabbits. In 1970, the disease was reported in humans for the first time.
In June 2003, monkeypox was reported in prairie dogs and humans in the United States.

What Causes Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is caused by Monkeypox virus. The Monkeypox virus is within the family Poxviridae and the genus Orthopoxvirus. Other orthopoxviruses that cause infections in humans include:

How Is It Transmitted?

Monkeypox transmission can happen either from animal to human or less commonly, from human to human.
Animal to Human
The virus can spread to humans from an infected animal through an animal bite or direct contact with the animal's lesions or body fluids.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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