What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The monkey virus is a member of the orthopoxvirus family, along with smallpox and cowpox. Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in a laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark when two pox-like outbreaks occurred in a group of monkeys that were being used for research purposes. Although the disease is named “monkeypox”, the actual source of the disease remains unknown but rodents and non-human primates (monkeys) harbor the virus and can infect humans. The first case of human monkeypox was identified in a 9-month-old boy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1970. Before the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in several countries in central and western Africa. Currently, further studies are being conducted to better understand the spread, sources, and transmission of the virus.


What are signs and symptoms of monkeypox?

After exposure, it can take about 5 to 21 days for symptoms to appear. Usually, people with monkeypox will develop a rash near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus but could also be located on other parts of the body including hands, feet, chest, or mouth. The rash can appear pimple or blister-like and can also be very painful or itchy. The rash may last for several days and go through several stages including scabbing, before it starts to get better. Monkeypox symptoms will develop within 3 weeks of exposure and can last from 2 to 4 weeks.

Other symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms

How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spreads via close, personal, contact including direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox, touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels), or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox, or contact with respiratory secretions.


Is there a monkeypox vaccine?

The U.S Food and Drug issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Jynneos vaccine for individuals who are over the age of 18 and who are determined to be at high risk of contracting monkeypox. Jynneos vaccine is a two-dose series, and it takes 14 days after the second dose to reach its maximum immune protection.


What are the best ways to prevent monkeypox?

In order to protect themselves, individuals should avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that appears monkeypox-like, avoid contact with objects or materials that have been used by a person with monkeypox, and wash hands frequently.


Is there treatment for monkeypox?

Currently, there are no specific treatments for monkeypox. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, therefore antiviral medications developed to protect against smallpox may be useful in the treatment of monkeypox. Individuals that experience monkeypox symptoms should seek more information from their healthcare provider.


What should I do if I have monkeypox?

Individuals who have monkeypox symptoms should isolate themselves until the monkeypox rash is healing and a new layer of skin is formed. Individuals with monkeypox should also stay clear of other individuals and not share things they have touched with other individuals. They should also stay clear of animals including pets and livestock as monkeypox can spread to animals as well.


Makenna Wilson

PharmD Candidate, 2023

Temple University School or Pharmacy



Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/treatment.html. Published August 10, 2022. Accessed August 23, 2022. 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2022. Monkeypox Update: FDA Authorizes Emergency Use of JYNNEOS Vaccine to Increase Vaccine Supply. [online] Available at: <https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/monkeypox-update-fda-authorizes-emergency-use-jynneos-vaccine-increase-vaccine-supply> [Accessed 23 August 2022].

Who.int. 2022. Monkeypox. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/monkeypox> [Accessed 23 August 2022].