Monkeypox (Mpox)

ITM is monitoring the mpox outbreak both in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

About monkeypox / mpox

Mpox (genus orthopoxvirus), previously called monkeypox, is a variant of the virus that caused the "normal" smallpox. It was first discovered in 1958 in laboratory monkeys, hence the previous name. However, it is not certain that monkeys are the main reservoir (carrier) of the virus. According to the latest findings, these are more likely to be African rodents.

Until recently, the mpox disease was found mainly in forested areas in Central and West Africa, namely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. Since May 2022, there has been a major outbreak outside the African continent. Particularly countries in Europe and North America have been affected, including Belgium.

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Monkeypox infection

Risk factors

You can get mpox through:

  • direct contact with skin lesions that contain a lot of virus.

  • contact with body fluids or mucous membranes of an infected person.

  • spreading of saliva droplets.

  • (in theory) transmission via contaminated surfaces or linen (such as bedding or towels).


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

  • General sense of unease and discomfort

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Headache

These are followed by skin lesions: (red) spots, pimples, blisters or festering lumps, which crust before healing. Skin lesions can occur all over the body.


There is no approved treatment for the time being. The disease usually heals spontaneously after a few weeks, with no residual lesions. 

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