Scientists have identified a new virus spread around the world. The virus is known as monkeypox.
Health officials around the world are keeping watch for more cases because, for the first time, the disease appears to be spreading among people who didn’t travel to Africa.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates. It occasionally jumps across to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.
The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.
What are the symptoms and how is it treated?
Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.
Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
How many Monkeypox cases happen each year?
The World Health Organisation estimates there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about a dozen African countries every year. Most are in Congo, which reports about 6000 cases annually, and Nigeria, with about 3000 cases a year.
In 2003, 47 people in six US states had confirmed or probable cases. They caught the virus from pet prairie dogs that been housed near imported small mammals from Ghana.