Monkeypox

4. Monkeypox symptoms

There are several scenarios regarding symptoms and the timing of their onset and cessation. We describe the most common ones.

Symptoms of monkeypox usually appear between 5 and 21 days after exposure to the virus. A person is contagious as soon as symptoms appear. It has been observed in the current outbreak that some people do not develop symptoms. They can nonetheless also transmit the virus.

Flu-like symptoms

The following symptoms are described:

  • Sudden outbreak of fever (over 38.5°C)
  • Headaches
  • A runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Aching and stiff muscles
  • Swollen lymph nodes (mainly in the neck, but also under the armpits and in the groin)
  • Muscle pain
  • Back pain
  • Extreme fatigue

This phase does not always occur. 

Skin sores

Flu-like symptoms are followed, after one to three days but sometimes longer, by skin sores or lesions:

  • These may consist of red patches or pimples, usually with fluid inside and which are itchy.
  • The sores usually appear first on the face and then on the rest of the body including the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and genitals; however, other cases have been described with solitary pimples (about one third of cases consist only of sores in the genital area).
  • Some people may have only a few sores, others may have hundreds.
  • These lesions can take between 2 and 4 weeks to disappear.
  • The lesions contain the virus. You should therefore avoid touching them. You should wait until the lesions have dried, all the scabs have fallen off and new skin has formed to make sure you do not pass the disease on to others.

Monkeypox symptoms can sometimes be confused with those of other diseases, such as syphilis, herpes, shingles, or chickenpox. Only a health professional can make a proper diagnosis. If you notice any symptoms, contact a doctor.

Complications rarely occur.

 

Last updated
19 August 2022

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