What You Need to Know About Monkeypox
Person to Person
Monkeypox also can be spread from person to person, although it is much less infectious than smallpox. The virus is thought to be transmitted by respiratory droplets during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact. In addition, it is possible that monkeypox can be spread by direct contact with body fluids of an infected person or with virus-contaminated objects, such as bedding or clothing.
When a person becomes infected with the virus that causes monkeypox, the virus begins to multiply within the body. After 7 to 17 days, symptoms can begin. This period between the transmission of monkeypox and the start of symptoms is the "monkeypox incubation period."
In humans, symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, only milder. Monkeypox symptoms begin with:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A general feeling of discomfort
Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a papular rash (raised bumps), often first on the face but sometimes initially on other parts of the body. The lesions usually develop through several stages before crusting and falling off.
The illness typically lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.
In order to make a diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions (medical history) and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of monkeypox.
If there is a moderate or high suspicion of monkeypox, the doctor may order certain lab tests and refer the person to a dermatologist or infectious disease doctor.
Before a diagnosis of monkeypox is made, the doctor will consider other illnesses that share common symptoms with monkeypox, including:
- Herpes zoster (Shingles)
- Contact dermatitis
- Erythema multiforme
- Adverse reaction to medications
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease
- Molluscum contagiousum.
(Click Diagnosis of Monkeypox for more information.)