10 Facts About Monkeypox Which We Hope Won’t be Another Pandemic


Just as the world seems to be getting out of the pandemic, another disease has hit multiple countries again.

And unless you have been living under a rock, you would be no stranger to the name: Monkeypox.

But if you are, no worries. Here is a video to get you started.

Now without further ado, here is everything you need to know about the disease spreading in the West.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus that causes fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes, and painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet. It is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.

Currently, there are two main strains of the virus. The Congo strain has a 10% mortality rate, while the West African strain has a 1% mortality rate.

If you are wondering about the name, it is because the first documented case of the illness was in a colony of monkeys kept for research back in 1958.

But it wasn’t until 1970, that the first human case of monkeypox was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a 9-year-old boy.

Since then, most cases have been reported in Central and West Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas.

Monkeypox, Chickenpox, Smallpox: What is the Difference?

Pox here, pox there. The diseases might share the same suffix but are not exactly the same.

The monkeypox virus, belongs to a subset of the poxvirus family called Orthopoxvirus. This subset also includes smallpox which was eliminated worldwide in 1980.

On the other hand, chickenpox is caused by the Varicella zoster virus and is not related to the poxviruses.

Monkeypox is also much rarer compared to smallpox and the symptoms are clinically less severe.


The symptoms of Monkeypox include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Backache
  • Swollen Lymph nodes

Infectees may also get a skin rash which appears one to five days after the first symptoms.

The rash might resemble blisters caused by chickenpox.


Individuals will usually recover from their symptoms in two to four weeks. However, in rare cases, some individuals may suffer severe illness or death.


Now you might be wondering how the virus is transmitted.

Despite its name, the main carriers of the monkeypox virus are actually rodents such as squirrels and rats.

And how do humans end up catching the virus?

It is usually through an animal bite, scratch, or contact with the animal’s bodily fluids.


Human-to-human transmission is mostly through inhalation of large respiratory droplets and less through direct contact with bodily fluids or indirect contact through clothes.

Not as Transmissible as COVID-19

But not to fret, human-to-human transmission of Monkeypox is limited.

This was established by the World Health Organisation when discussing the recent outbreak of Monkeypox cases in Western countries.

Scientists have mentioned that the Monkeypox outbreak is unlikely to develop into a pandemic like COVID-19. This is because the monkeypox virus is less transmissible than the COVID-19 virus.

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Unfortunately, there are currently no proven, safe treatments for monkeypox, though most cases are mild.

However, owing to their similar viral origins, Smallpox vaccines have been up to 85% effective in preventing the spread of the monkeypox virus.


Countries including the UK and Spain are now offering the vaccine to those who have been exposed to infections to help reduce symptoms and limit the spread.

However, monkeypox cases will still be on the rise because fewer people are protected against smallpox as many smallpox vaccination programmes had been stopped after the disease eradication.

Outbreak in the West

As of now, the situation is most severe in European countries, with more than one hundred cases found there recently.

German experts have termed the current monkeypox outbreak as the “largest outbreak in Europe ever”, with nine countries in Europe having reported cases of monkeypox.

They are namely Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


Outside of Europe, cases have also been reported in the United States, Canada and Australia.

No Case in Singapore Yet

Fortunately, our little red dot has not seen any Monkeypox cases…yet.

On 21 May, the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed that, as of 20 May, there are no new monkeypox cases in Singapore.

Nonetheless, the ministry is urging medical practitioners in Singapore to keep a lookout for fresh cases.

Meanwhile, MOH will keep an eye on the developing situation

Previous Case was in 2019

Despite not having any cases since the recent outbreak, Singapore did in fact have a case of Monkeypox before.

Three years ago in May 2019, Singapore received its first case of Monkeypox.

The infected was a Nigerian man who arrived here in Singapore for a workshop.


He had apparently consumed bush meat, a possible source of the transmission of Monkeypox, when he attended a wedding in Nigeria.

He was moved to an isolation ward after testing positive and 22 out of 23 identified close contacts were placed under quarantine.

You can read more about that incident here.

Tips for Travellers

Lest you become the first Singaporean case of Monkeypox, here are a few helpful tips for those travelling soon:

  • Maintain high personal hygiene
  • Avoid skin contact with lesions of infected living or dead persons and animals
  • Avoid eating bushmeat
  • Don’t get near wild animals

For travellers who are returning to Singapore, especially from areas affected by monkeypox, they are advised to monitor their own health.

But most importantly, as COVID-19 has taught us, do not panic. With the resources and contact-tracing system we have, Monkeypox will surely not be able to sustain itself here.

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Featured Image: Ekahardiwito / Shutterstock.com