The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days. The symptoms of monkeypox in humans are similar to but clinically less severe than the symptoms of smallpox.
Monkeypox Symptoms Usually Occur in Two Stages
According to the WHO, the first stage of monkeypox infection, the invasion period, lasts between 0-5 days. It is characterized by fever, back pain, muscle pain, headaches, and lack of energy. There is a key difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox. Monkeypox causes swelling of lymph nodes usually in the neck and armpits, while smallpox does not.
The second stage indicated by a rash occurring 1-3 days after the onset of fever, sometimes longer. The rash can start on any part of the body but tends to begin on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. The lesions of the rash (bumps/blisters) develop on any part of the body, including genital areas. The rash evolves sequentially, from:
- macules – lesions with a flat base; to
- papules – slightly raised firm lesions; to
- vesicles – lesions filled with clear fluid; to
- pustules – lesions filled with yellowish fluid), and finally
- crusts which dry up and fall off.
Severe Cases and Complications
Severe cases appear more commonly among children. These tend to be associated with the extent of exposure to the virus, the health condition of the patient, and the nature of complications. Underlying immune deficiencies may lead to worse outcomes.
Complications of monkeypox can include secondary diseases, bronchopneumonia, encephalitis, sepsis, and infection of the cornea with resulting loss of vision. The extent to which asymptomatic infection may occur is unknown.
Monkeypox Symptoms Are Self-Limiting
Monkeypox is usually a self-limiting condition with symptoms typically lasting 2-4 weeks, after which they disappear.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.