Monkeypox is a viral infection characterised by fever with rash. The virus belongs to the same family that houses the smallpox virus. It causes a disease similar, but milder than smallpox. It is a zoonotic disease. It was discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of “pox-like disease” occurred in monkeys kept for research. The first human case was reported in 1970 with cases mostly being reported from Africa.
It commonly presents with fever followed by rash. Initial symptoms accompanying the fever may include headache, body pain, tiredness and lymph node enlargement. The fever is followed by a rash, which usually occurs 1-4 days following the fever. The rash may occur in the absence of fever or may rarely precede the fever. The rash of monkey pox resembles pimples and blisters. The rash is distinctly noted over the face and limbs but quickly spreads all over the body within a day.
It spreads through direct contact with the rash / scabs/body fluids. It can also spread by contact with clothes/objects contaminated with body fluids of the patient. It can also spread through sexual intercourse. Infected mothers can transmit it the infection to their fetus. Spread from an infected animal can occur through scratches/bites from the animal or by eating its meat.
This is a self-limiting infection and it takes 2-4 weeks for complete recovery. The rash and the scabs are infective and the patient is deemed to have recovered after complete resolution of symptoms and lesions.
Persons younger than 40-50 yrs of age (born after 1980), may be at a higher risk due to cessation of smallpox vaccination after 1980.
Avoid close skin-to-skin contact and sharing of utensils with any person with rash or with anyone suspected with monkeypox, hand hygiene and protection whenever washing or touching the clothes/linen of patients, isolation of patients for 2-4 wks
Smallpox vaccines may be useful as post exposure prophylaxis. Vaccination may also be prudent for people at high risk.