What is monkeypox? Signs and symptoms of the virus


(Picture: CDC/Getty Images)

Three cases of monkeypox have now been confirmed in England, as a healthcare worker from Blackpool was reported to have contracted the disease.

It’s an extremely rare disease, and is zoonotic, so is normally seen in animals.

It can, however, be transferred to humans, as we’ve seen from the recent news.

Find out everything you need to know about the disease here.

Symptoms of one of the first known human cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand in 2003 (Picture: The Lancet)

Monkeypox is a orthopoxvirus.

Although it’s not a descendent or ancestor of smallpox, it has similar symptoms (although they’re milder and there’s a lower death rate).

It’s most commonly seen in monkeys and rodents, but has been known to be passed to humans.

There was an outbreak in the US in 2003, which was as a result of a giant Gambian rats.

The most recent major outbreak was in Nigeria in 2017, and the first UK patient to be found with monkeypox had just returned from Nigeria.

The disease is not highly contagious, and is relatively mild.

It’s unlikely you’ll come into contact with monkeypox, and if you do the chance of getting seriously ill are very low,.

Monkeypox lesions on a Liberian patient (Picture: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)

Monkeypox symptoms

The early stages of monkeypox can be characterised by a high fever, intense headache, swelling of lymph nodes and aching muscles, say the WHO.

Those infected are also likely to have a lack of energy in the first five days after contracting the disease.

A rash will appear one to three days after the fever, often beginning on the face before spreading elsewhere on the body.

This rash is then likely to evolve into lesions with flat bases, blisters or pustules, followed by crusts, in approximately 10 days.

The symptoms can be known to last two to three weeks as the virus is a self-limited disease, meaning it is restricted in its duration.

Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infection at the Royal Free Hospital, said: ‘Monkeypox is, in most cases, a mild condition which will resolve on its own and have no long-term effects on a person’s health.

‘Most people recover within several weeks.’

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