9 Simple Truths About Monkey Pox Virus

Jan 26, 2018,

As a child, I remember how I’ll scream at the top of my lungs while my father drove through the faintly dim streets with my brother and I. “I want my daddy to buy a monkey for me!” It was love at first sight and as I grew I wondered how cruel it was for humans to kill and eat pets, yes, monkeys were just amazing pets. My first pet was a Monkey, it was so scared being in a new environment and was clinging to me so tight it felt like it was a baby.

That’s some years back. Now no matter how much my child might love such pets today, I'll only let him cry out his lungs than buy it, hopefully he won’t die from the tears.

Why?! Monkeys now have poxes! They breed diseases that can kill you its owner, provider and protector; and in any case the one who considers it “bush meat”. If you've never taken a trip into this not so novel disease? Well, hold on a bit as i take you through it briefly.

What really is Monkey pox?

It’s a rare disease! It is similar to smallpox but milder. Now, milder does not mean you cannot die of it. So, why the name Monkey Pox you may ask? We would get to that shortly. But this disease is majorly found in remote areas in Africa, now you see why I can’t risk having it as a pet in my home?

Outbreaks so far… Oh well Monkey Pox was first discovered in Congo in 1970. But since then, it has been discovered in other parts of West Africa, including Nigeria. Recently, in September 2017, there was an outbreak in Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Bayelsa State. According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, there have been 31 suspected cases so far in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River.

Animals aren’t so innocent

In Africa, human infections have been documented by the handling of infected monkeys (now this is how we got the name). However, since most of us aren’t in direct contact with monkeys, other animals such as bush rats, squirrels and other house rodents can transmit the disease. Body fluids such as saliva and blood play a major role in transmission.

Even humans too

Monkey pox is contagious. But if a human is infected alongside an animal, the chance of contacting it from the animal is higher than from humans. Humans transmit the disease via body secretions such as blood and phlegm. Objects touched by an infected person can also serve as a source of infection.

The symptoms... how to know

First thing to know is that it is self-limiting (resolves on its own with symptoms lasting between 14 – 21days). That’s satisfying right? Yes, I know. However, it takes an average of 6-16 days (5 – 21days sometimes) from infection to development of symptoms.

Characteristically, there is intense headache, fever, muscle aches, lack of energy and swellings (of lymph nodes) around the neck and armpit for 0 – 5 days. Following these are skin eruptions which basically start from the face and spreads to other parts of the body. It is more severe in children.

Can I run tests?

Everyone ask that considering that some of these symptoms are like the normal Malaria/Fever symptoms.

Now, here is the scary part… Investigating for Monkey pox isn’t straightforward; it resembles other diseases such as scabies, smallpox (which has been eradicated), chickenpox, measles and some bacterial infections. One distinguishing factor from smallpox is the lymph node enlargement during the first stage of the illness.

However, some laboratory tests such as enzyme linked immunoassay amongst others can be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Does Monkey Pox have any treatment?

Sadly, there’s no actual cure yet. But an infected person can manage the virus:

  • Emphasis therefore is geared at proper control of outbreaks.
  • Management of individual symptoms; and
  • Isolation of infected patients has been used so far.

There is an 85% chance that vaccines used for the eradication of smallpox can reduce the fatality (so far no one has been reported dead in the recent outbreak in Nigeria) of Monkey pox.

Sadly, such vaccine is no longer available to the general public, so your best bet is to prevent contacting Monkey Pox.

How can I Prevent Monkey Pox?

The following preventive methods can be adopted;

  • Ensuring that all possible animal source of infection are kept at bay.
  • Proper handling of animals and quarantine of infected ones
  • Proper cooking of meat
  • Close physical contact with infected people should be avoided. Personal Protective equipment such as gloves and proper clothing should be worn if contact is necessary.


If you’d like to know more about Monkey pox virus or other related communicable diseases,  please call 0700 770 7000 to speak to our doctors or log on to www.talktomedoc.com.

And remember, any suspected case of Monkey pox must be reported to the appropriate authorities.

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