What is monkeypox and what are the symptoms?

Andy WellsFreelance Writer
Monkeypox causes swollen lymph nodes, as well as fever, muscle aches and exhaustion (Wikipedia)
Monkeypox causes swollen lymph nodes, as well as fever, muscle aches and exhaustion (Wikipedia)

After a person in England was diagnosed with the rare viral infection monkeypox, many people may be wondering exactly what the condition involves.

The unidentified patient is believed to have contracted the infection while visiting Nigeria and is currently being treated at the specialist high-consequence infectious disease centre at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London.

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Public Health England said monkeypox "is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and the risk to the general public in England is very low”.

It added: ”It is usually a self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks.”

Here’s what you need to know about monkeypox…

Scabs can form from rashes and spots on the skin (Getty)
Scabs can form from rashes and spots on the skin (Getty)

What is monkeypox?

A rare disease caused by a viral infection.

How does it spread?

Most commonly when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal. It is not spread easily between people.

What are the symptoms?

Infected people usually start to show symptoms between five and 21 days after infection. These include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient's hand (Getty)
Symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient's hand (Getty)

How serious is it?

Most patients recover within a few weeks and do not need treatment, but it can cause severe illness in some people.

Why is it called monkeypox?

The disease was first discovered in monkeys kept for research in 1958. The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Where is it prevalent?

Cases have been reported in a number of countries in Africa, including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Nigeria. An outbreak occurred in America in 2003 after rodents were imported from Africa. There was a sustained outbreak in Nigeria last year and there have been sporadic cases reported since then.

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