- More than 100 monkeypox cases have been detected worldwide in the past month, including in the US.
- Monkeypox symptoms can be confused with those of chickenpox.
- One chart shows how monkeypox symptoms compare with those of chickenpox and smallpox.
Health officials around the world have urged people to be alert to monkeypox rashes, as more than 100 cases have been confirmed in the past month and an additional 131 are suspected, the World Health Organization said.
Inger Damon, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said in a statement after the first case was confirmed in the US: “Healthcare providers should be alert to any rash that has features typical of monkeypox. We’re asking the public to contact their healthcare provider if they have a new rash and are concerned about monkeypox.”
But identifying a monkeypox rash isn’t always easy.
Although they are caused by different types of viruses, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of chickenpox — and it can be tricky to tell between the two without a test.
In Greece, for example, local media reported on Monday that the country’s first suspected monkeypox case tested positive for chickenpox, not monkeypox.
Symptoms of monkeypox can also be compared with smallpox — a related virus that was declared eradicated in 1980. Like smallpox, monkeypox causes pus-filled boils.
But monkeypox is generally milder than smallpox, with symptoms getting better on their own within two to four weeks. Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox was and less fatal, the WHO said.
The main difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is swollen lymph nodes or “lymphadenopathy” — monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, while smallpox doesn’t, the CDC said.
Here are the symptoms associated with monkeypox and how they compare with those of chickenpox and smallpox.