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The Horrifying History of the Deadly Monkeypox Outbreak

history monkeypox outbreak

In 1970, monkeypox, a previously unidentified orthopoxvirus, was discovered in humans after smallpox had been nearly eradicated. In the Equateur province of Zaire, which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a 9-year-old child contracted a disease that resembled smallpox but was later identified by the World Health Organization as human monkeypox.

This was the first recorded human incidence of the disease. Retrospectively, monkeypox infection was responsible for similar cases that emerged in 1970–1971 from the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Before 2003, when the first cases in the Western Hemisphere were reported, monkeypox was only seen in the rain forests of central and western Africa.

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

monkeypox virus electron microscope

Multiple people with fever, rash, respiratory symptoms, and lymphadenopathy were discovered in the midwestern United States at the end of spring 2003 after coming into contact with sick pet prairie dogs that carried the monkeypox virus.


Early in May 2022, during the most current outbreak 2022, 9 cases of monkeypox were recorded from the United Kingdom, with the first confirmed case having recently visited Nigeria.

There were two confirmed transmissions to another adult and a baby within the patient’s family from this adult index case. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported a confirmed case of monkeypox in an adult male who had just returned from Canada on May 18, 2022.

The current outbreak is still evolving rapidly. Over 5000 confirmed cases of monkeypox were reported worldwide as of June 29, 2022, across 51 different countries. Every continent where people live has cases. There were more than 350 verified cases in the US as of June 29, 2022.

Monkeypox rash symptoms

How is monkeypox transmitted?

There are currently a lot of cases involving males who have sex with other men. Monkeypox is not believed to be sexually transmissible, however, it can be transferred by contact with lesions and droplets of the virus.

The majority of cases that were confirmed involved direct contact with or exposure to sick prairie dogs that showed symptoms like dyspnea, lymphadenopathy, mucocutaneous lesions, and profuse nasal and ocular discharge.

All known cases of monkeypox originated from a single animal distributor where prairie dogs were housed or transported from Ghana with African rodents. Gambian rats have recognized monkeypox reservoirs in their native habitat of Africa.

In the 2003 US outbreak, asymptomatic imported animals spread a foreign pathogen to a local susceptible animal.

The animal developed symptoms after an average incubation time of 12 days and was capable of spreading the infection to humans when they were close. We still don’t know the exact possibility of human-to-human and human-to-animal transmission.

monkeypox history


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Written by Rylan Santos

Full-Stack Web Developer, Digital Marketing, and E-Business Builder.

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