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Most Alarming Signs & Symptoms Of Monkeypox Virus

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

This article has been reviewed by Dr Nikita Toshi


Monkeypox is a self-limiting disease (a disease that subsides on its own) from the west and central Africa that has recently seen a multiple country outbreak. Over 16,000 cases have been reported from at least 75 countries. The majority of the cases have been since May. The case-to-fatality ratio for monkeypox ranges, historically, from 0 to 11% for the general population, higher among young children. Recently it has been around 3 to 6%.

Monkeypox virus is similar to the virus that caused smallpox and is unrelated to chicken pox. Its symptoms are comparable to milder smallpox. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact with infected humans and animals. The infection can also spread by contact with infected persons’ belongings (utensils, bedsheets, clothes, towels etc.). 

What are the symptoms of monkeypox? 

The first step in preventing any disease is learning to identify the signs of that disease. Let us look into what symptoms are triggered by monkeypox.

The disease, monkeypox, occurs in 2 stages:

Initial symptoms 

The initial symptoms of monkeypox are flu-like, including:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Intense exhaustion
  • Muscle aches
  • Shivering

Lymph nodes also start to swell (lymphadenopathy), this helps the body fight the disease and also sets it apart from smallpox, measles and other similar seeming diseases. Lymphadenopathy is exclusive to Monkeypox.

These symptoms appear over 5 to 21 days from the day of exposure (the average incubation period is 6 to 13 days).

Skin Eruptions (2nd period of Infection)

Like chicken pox, widespread rashes appear that develop into lesions with flat bases, which raise and fill with clear fluid. The fluid then turns yellow and blisters finally dry up and fall off. 

These appear 1 to 5 days after early symptoms(or onset of fever), usually starting on the face and spreading to other parts of your body. These eruptions also appear on palms, soles of feet and oral mucous membranes (tongue and throat). The number of lesions can be anywhere from a few to several thousand, depending on the severity of the disease.

The entire process of rash formation to the scabs falling off takes about 2 to 3 weeks.

Also Read: Why Does My Poop Smell So Bad? Unpacking Digestive Health Concerns

Quick tips on keeping yourself safe 

  • Practising safe sex (usage of protection).
  • Abstaining from sex if your partner has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Confirming the health of new sexual partners.
  • Wearing Masks.
  • Maintaining regular sanitisation practices.
  • Follow safety measures (PPE, Mask, Gloves etc) while taking care of someone diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Consult a doctor immediately if you notice symptoms similar to monkeypox.

Key takeaways

  • Monkeypox is a self-limiting disease lasting 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Initial symptoms occur between 5 to 21 days.
  • Initial symptoms include headaches, body aches, intense exhaustion, fever etc.
  • The second phase of the disease involves widespread skin rashes that occur within 1 to 5 days of onset of early symptoms. 
  • These often start on the face but spread to other body parts.
  • The rashes develop into blisters and eventually form scabs and fall off in around 2 to 3 weeks.


Monkeypox has been declared to be a global public health emergency by the WHO following the multiple country outbreak. While the risk presented by monkeypox remains low currently, it is important for a coordinated international response to occur to prevent further global spread.

It is also important to take measures to keep oneself safe and be aware of the signs and symptoms to be able to self-isolate if required. Avoiding close contact with affected individuals and taking necessary safety precautions is the way to go, despite the low risk.



Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.


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