Monkeypox (monkeypoxvirus, genus orthopoxvirus) is caused by a virus. It was first discovered in 1958 and is a variant of the virus that caused the "common" smallpox. Smallpox was successfully eradicated in 1980 thanks to the available vaccination.

Monkeypox was first discovered in laboratory monkeys, hence the name. However, it is not certain that monkeys are the main reservoir (carrier) of the virus. According to the latest findings, it is more likely to be African rodents.

The following symptoms appear about 5 to 21 days after infection:

  • General unwellness
  • Fever
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache

This is followed by skin lesions: (red) spots, pimples, blisters or festering lumps, which then crust before healing. These skin lesions can be spread all over the body.

There are no approved treatments for the time being, but the disease usually heals spontaneously with no residual lesions after a few weeks. 

You can get monkeypox by:

  • Contact with body fluids, such as wound fluids
  • Contact with mucous membranes and saliva droplets
  • Contaminated surfaces or linen (such as bedding or towels).

Were you at risk?

If you have been in contact with an infected person or are developing symptoms of monkeypox, read our frequently asked questions about monkeypox.