With the first case of Monkeypox reported in South Africa, panic has started to sweep across the country. Much like with Covid-19, prevention is better than cure, and it's better to be prepared with the facts on the virus.

The first cases were reported globally in May, and the viral infection spread alarmingly.

Monkeypox is a disease harbouring by certain animals, such as large rodents and can transmit from animals to humans.

While symptoms are similar to smallpox, the virus is not related to chickenpox and can be fatal.


Animal to human – Monkeypox can be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals' blood, bodily fluids or cutaneous and mucosal lesions.
  • The virus has been linked to animals such as rope squirrels, tree squirrels, dormice, Gambian pouched rats, and various species of monkeys.
  • Eating meat and animal products from infected animals that are not adequately cooked increases the risk of contracting Monkeypox.

Human to human – transmission can occur from close contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions and skin lesions.

  • Droplets of respiratory particles from face-to-face contact are also how the virus spreads. It remains unclear if Monkeypox is transmitted through sexual intercourse.

Signs and symptoms

The onset of symptoms is usually between 6 to 13 days, but it can range from 5 to 21 days.

Infection is divided into two periods, namely the invasion period and the skin eruption or rash that breaks out.

During the invasion period, the symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • swelling of the lymph nodes
  • back pain
  • muscle aches
  • lack of energy/fatigue

The skin eruption can occur throughout the entire body; however, the rash affects the face, palms, hands and soles of the feet.

In more severe cases, the rash can spread to oral mucous membranes and genitalia and cause the eye and cornea conjunctiva.

The rash can include flat, slightly raised lesions filled with a clear or yellow fluid.


The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says most human cases do not require specific treatment and the disease usually resolves independently.

Doctors may prescribe medication to treat pain, fever and other discomforts. The rash isn't generally itchy but may become itchy if the lesions rupture and heal.

It is advisable to seek medical attention, keep hydrated and avoid picking at the blisters, scratching or popping them to prevent further spread and other bacterial infections.