Monkeypox virus: What are the symptoms and how do you catch it? Everything you need to know

A patient in south-west England has been diagnosed with the rare infectious disease known as monkeypox​.

According to Public Health England, the person is thought to have contracted the viral infection while visiting Nigeria.

They are now being treated at the specialist high consequence infectious disease centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.

It is the fourth reported case of monkeypox to have been found in the UK, after PHE said three were diagnosed in September 2018.


The disease, which is similar to smallpox, is usually found in central and West Africa, but it does not spread easily between humans and most people recover within a few weeks.

But what exactly is monkeypox and what symptoms should you be aware of? Here’s everything you need to know:

What is Monkeypox?

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

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 during an outbreak of pox-like disease in monkeys.

The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and since then the infection has been reported in a number of central and western African countries.

What are the symptoms?

The illness begins with:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • exhaustion

Within 1 to 5 days after getting a fever, a rash develops, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body, such as the hands and soles of the feet.

The rash will finally form a scab before falling off.

Is it deadly?

No. Monkeypox is a mild condition which will often resolve on its own and has no known long-term effects on a person’s health.

How did it get to the UK?

Of the three cases of monkeypox to be reported in the UK last year, two were found in people who had travelled back from Africa and one was a healthcare worker who had become infected after caring for the first two cases before the virus was suspected.

PHE said the infection announced today was thought to have occurred after the person travelled back to the UK from Nigeria.

How do you prevent monkeypox?

Generally, the risk of infection unlikely.

Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infection at Royal Free Hospital, said monkeypox “does not spread easily between people and the risk of transmission to the wider public is very low.”

Still, the best way to avoid infection is to regularly wash hands after caring for sick people.


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