Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.
You can get monkeypox if you:
- Touch the rash or scabs of an infected person
- Touch contaminated objects such as bed linens, clothing, or medical equipment used by an infected person
- Are within a few feet of an infected person and breathe in the virus released when they cough or sneeze
- Touch or are bitten or scratched by an infected mammal
- Touch contaminated products or objects from or touched by infected animals, such as skins (hides), meat, or animal bedding.
Monkeypox symptoms usually occur in two stages.
The first stage is often characterized by fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes (often in the neck and arm pits), and tiredness.
The second stage characterized by a rash occurs 1 to 3 days after the fever begins. The rash can begin on any part of the body. The lesions of the rash (bumps/blisters) develop on any part of the body, including genital areas. The lesions can also spread to other parts of the body. The rash often goes through several stages before scabbing over and resolving.
The monkeypox virus can be spread to others by an infected person until all the scabs fall off and a fresh layer of skin appears. Monkeypox can last up to a month and can be fatal in as many as 1 to 11% of people who become infected.1
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.2